July 28 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Tucked away on the outskirts of a Suffolk village stands an RSPCA centre where animals both big and small are cared for and, in some cases, rehabilitated after being mistreated or neglected.
Last year 500 animals which were based at the Suffolk East and Ipswich centre in Martlesham were rehomed, including dogs, cats and smaller animals, such as rabbits.
Tom Patrick, the centre’s acting deputy manager, has been working with the RSPCA in the area for the last eight years.
Walking through the centre’s grounds, peeking in on the animals that currently call it home, his enthusiasm for the job is clear to see.
“I love it here,” he said.
“You never know what’s going to happen on a day to day basis but it can be very emotional and strenuous dealing with the difficult animals coming through.
“They could be coming in with health problems, they could have bad skin and they could be really underweight.
“There are also people who are struggling with their animals.
“Sometimes you think you have seen your worst one but they come into the centre and we rehabilitate them, get them healthy and re-home them.
“It can be distressing but the reward of it is at the end of it, you are able to re-home these animals to their best suited homes.
“It is also seeing the improvement that is great. Whatever the scenario, it is great seeing the change in them and we can work with them and improve their life to a certain degree and find the best home for them.”
The group has been based in Mill Lane in Martlesham since 1977 but the branch itself has operated since the 1930s.
It is not just the “regular” pets that are taken in, however.
Currently at the centre is a baby blackbird, which is due to be taken to the RSPCA wildlife centre in East Winch, Norfolk, when it is strong enough and other animals such as ferrets and chinchillas are based there.
Other creatures you would not expect to run into during a walk through the countryside are also often brought in.
Mr Patrick added: “We take in wildlife as well. That is more of your birds that need hand feeding and the occasional grass snake – things like that.”
The work done at the centre has often been highlighted, particularly when a pet has been mistreated.
But it relies on the generosity of people in Suffolk.
This branch is licensed by the national RSPCA but is self supporting.
Last year, it needed close to £500,000 to run its services and continue to support the animals, but due to a shortfall in funding, it had to dip into its reserves to make up the funds.
In its latest newsletter, the group has admitted that is unsustainable and that is why it is so important it runs different charity evenings and runs schemes to boost its income.
Making the public aware of its work is also vital to this.
The work is bolstered by a strong core of volunteers but it is vital that funds continue to come in so the help it has provided for decades can carry on.
Mr Patrick added: “We are a locally funded group so we receive no funding from the national RSPCA, no lottery grants, we are funded by the local community.
“The more we raise awareness and get in touch with the local community, the more animals we can rehome.”