Crosskennan took a look at the other animals who they've helped, some behind the scenes and some via home from home and although we haven't met many of them in person; we still feel the obligation to care for them and check on them; even when so often we have very little to do with them beyond our initial help and advice.
This year we have seen a total (as of the 20th of December) of 27 'Other animals' and for us, that is the ones we help but not necessarily commonly; after all, we are the 'horse rescue' but we have helped 8 rabbits, 4 guinea pigs, 3 ferrets, 1 chinchilla, 2 lizards, 8 goats and 1 other (on our table), which in this case was a piggy! Commonly we would count wild animals, wild birds, and pet birds (like parrots, etc) on this list but we covered them the other day under 'Birds'. But for anyone curious, we helped 5 parrots and cockatiels this year as well as 2 wild birds; a rook and a thrush.
We are also tending to a rat at the moment but he sort of adopted us as opposed to the other way around; oops!
In comparison though in 2019 we helped only 13 'other animals'.
Of these 27, there were ones whose owners couldn't care for them any longer due to illness, home changes, job losses, home losses. A majority of calls for help were from homes with family illness or death, and while none were directly related to COVID-19 it has been a year for us to really look at what plans people have in place to look after their small animals.
One person who contacted needing help had hamsters and gerbils to rehome too but had managed to sort them on their own; most people when bringing the smaller animals into their home don't even consider that they may outlive them. It's a sad thought truly, but as we approach the end of one of the strangest and most difficult years for many of us we have to really think about it. While many of the illnesses and deaths that resulted in animals needing homes this year were not related to COVID; most covid related animals being job and home losses; it does make us wonder about our own animals, our own health, and our own futures. We were able to help these animals when they needed us but what if we couldn't?
Today we would like you all to just take a moment and consider what your plan is for your pets if you were to get sick or sadly pass away. No matter what your current health or age; we are responsible for them and they trust us to take care of them, so please; speak to a family member or friend or make a plan; even if it's only to say if you fall ill that they will check on your pets.
Anyway, enough of the morbid thoughts, we would like to share some of the animals we've helped this year; unfortunately, we don't always get as many updates from homes when we rehome Home from Home as we are merely the middle man in this situation; doing the advertising and vetting of new homes (to whatever level the owner prefers our involvement). Some we don't hear if it ever worked out, others we do, so our numbers reflect only the animals we know were rehomed in the case of rehoming.
We've helped rehome animals like...
Coco and Mango; these boys needed a home and we were originally asked to take them in but we really had no room or facilities for the boys so we offered a home from home appeal and we were inundated with applications. One application stood out among the rest, indoor home with a large spacious garden for play. The lady had had guinea pigs all her life and was excited to add another two to her family.
A 12-week old ferret in need of an urgent new home. Not only did she find a new home; she was rehomed within a day with a lady with years of experience with a large home already set up and ready to go.
Gary the goat who honestly won the internet when we advertised him! So many people wanting to adopt and every time we thought we had a home narrowed down for the owner it felt like a dozen more incredible homes appeared.
We of course can't forget about our very own Biscuit and Gizmi. They arrived in on hectic week and immediately we were inundated with people wanting to adopt. We had thought it would be a simple task, but Biscuit and Gizmi were showing some behavioural problems and we wanted to get them fully vetted before any home.
Further, our team is strict about rehoming small animals; as strict as we are with any animal; but in many ways more so as so often small animals are got and soon forgotten. We've seen it too often and we have changed policies over the years to help ensure that every animal has the best chance. What that did mean though was over 90% of the applications for the bunnies were not suitable.
Biscuit and Gizmi have a very independent streak, and when left too long on their own will become quite wild and aggressive to intruders. They need an indoor home with someone who will spend quality time with them; they enjoy the heat of an indoor home and the comforts and currently can be found most often cuddled up by the radiator in the barn kitchen.
They are quite beautiful bunnies but not necessarily suitable for children due to their wilder tendencies and although they are happy for a stroke and to be picked up; it is always on their terms.
They have become accustomed to a lifestyle at the sanctuary and happily explore the kitchen together and have worked out where their fresh veg is stored and will often be spotted waiting near the fridge door at lunchtime.
They are characters; with personalities much larger than their size suggests.
Biscuit and Gizmi are still on the lookout for that perfect home.
We have also offered support to people in health advice, training, vetting, etc. and assisted with costs associated with some of these areas.
What we see so often is people taking on smaller animals believing them to be easier to work with and care for. Many people forget, or are completely ignorant, of the complex needs rabbits have as well as the most common vet needs such as neutering, teeth checks, vaccinations etc. Rabbits require just as much care and thought as any dog or cat, and for some, they need much more; like any species with its more complex characters and breeds. Too often we are contacted by an owner whose baby bunny has grown up and begun to 'attack'. When we recommend neutering or other courses of action 9 times out of 10 we are met with a silence or a request to rehome the animal.
Thankfully there is always 1 out of every 10 who are willing to listen to advice or help and we are glad to help where we can, even if it is just to assist with the costs of neutering. Rabbits cost around £40-£50 to neuter/spay which is not a lot but can mean a huge difference to the life of the rabbit and those living with them.
Like we say with dogs and cats too, spaying and neutering save lives; so often we see people with baby bunnies who suddenly have more baby bunnies. Bunnies can produce an incredible 60 babies in their first year (potentially), with the females coming into maturity around 5-6 months of age and able to actually conceive a second litter while carrying another; therefore giving birth potentially every few weeks (with a gestation period of approximately 31 days). Most litters can be anything from 1 to 12 with an average of 6, although very often the larger of the litters will have more losses and so often(at least from our own records), the mother and father are brother and sister; therefore increasing genetic risks associated with inbreeding.
Like cats and dogs and many other animals across the country, there are enough being produced every year; rabbits are the most abused domestic pet in the UK with more than 35,000 abandoned every year and for those not abandoned; research by the RSPCA in England and Wales found that 70% of pet rabbits spend 24 hours a day closed up in a hutch in the garden.
We are not a small animal rescue although we offer space to small animals when needed; we try and help when we can and we have years of experience of most animals; of all species through our large family of volunteers and staff.
Our aim is always to relieve the suffering and distress of animals in need of care and protection by reason of sickness, neglect, or maltreatment, by establishing and maintaining a sanctuary for such animals.
In the end, we want to provide animals with a happy home; one where they are safe, happy and their needs are met; and for some, the best home they could ask for is the sanctuary and we are honored to be a part of their lives each day and so grateful that we are able to offer this to them. For others, we are able to provide the things they need to remain in their home or to find a new home where they can have a happy and healthy life.