In the Community
Caring for abandoned and abused pets within the sanctuary is, and always will be vital.
However, we would be foolish to believe that a safe haven is all that is needed to solve Plymouth’s perennial, animal welfare problems. With a limited income and a weighty demand on its distribution, our charity is hard pressed to target less emotive, but vitally important, aspects of its field of work.
Plymouth has long been accepted as a low paid area with some large pockets of deprivation and this is where we must focus any spare resources. For this reason, we have experienced staff—Community Welfare Officers—that we send to these areas whenever funding allows.
Despite their sometimes awesome reputations, these areas have some lovely residents who truly care about pets in their vicinity. In addition, our CWOs are often welcomed into homes where official visitors are not and, because of this respect, get to reach animals that may otherwise have remained hidden.
Our first community ‘weapon’ will always be spaying and neutering. Large dogs abound in these areas and are often left to breed at will or bred for gain. This not only increases the surplus pool, it also tends to generate ill behaved animals that are difficult to control.
During these visits, we’re often approached by elderly owners for advice. Usually, guidance on parasites or nail clipping is all that’s needed but, if we can, the animal is transported to our friends at the PDSA for treatment.
Likewise our CWOs will also befriend travellers and the homeless if a pet is involved.
Even with careful route planning, it’s not unusual for the van to travel over one hundred miles per day.
Some visits are to known ‘animal collectors’ who gather up large numbers of stray pets and quickly get out of their depth. Despite living in unhygienic circumstances, they genuinely believe they are providing a service to animal welfare. In these cases, the pets are not well cared for and usually suffer from skin complaints, flea infestations and are often allowed to breed indiscriminately . This situation is always fraught with frustration and, although we usually get the animals away, we know they will probably be replaced sooner or later.