The 3 animal rescues working behind the scenes during Coronavirus lockdown

Blue Cross has temporarily closed all of its rehoming centres to new admissions during the lockdown

Blue Cross has temporarily closed all of its rehoming centres to new admissions during the lockdown Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

We speak to the Suffolk animal shelters to see how they’re coping during the pandemic

RSPCA Animal Centre in Martlesham.
Picture: RACHEL EDGE

RSPCA Animal Centre in Martlesham. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

With the Government’s Coronavirus lockdown having put near enough all businesses to a halt, charities have had to come up with new ways in how they operate their shelters and take care of their animals.

We talk to three local animal shelters to see how they are coping in these uncertain times, and how they’re managing to look after the animals in their care.

From working safely behind the scenes, to taking some of the pets home on a fostered basis, those who work at the animal shelters are doing all they can to make the best of an unprecedented situation.

Martlesham Animal Home, Suffolk Animal Rescue and Blue Cross Suffolk all tell us how they’re managing, and how EADT readers can help from home.

Dolly, who is looking for her forever home PICTURE: Martlesham Animal Home

Dolly, who is looking for her forever home PICTURE: Martlesham Animal Home - Credit: Archant


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Martlesham Animal Home

“We are still very busy,” explained Zoe Barrett, animal centre manager at RSPCA Suffolk East and Ipswich Branch’s Martlesham Animal Home. “But we have unfortunately had to ask all of our dedicated volunteers to step down for the time being, so we can significantly reduce their risk of catching Covid-19. This could also potentially affect our staff, who are trained to medicate, behaviour assess and give specialist care to the animals we have here.”

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The Martlesham Animal Home has unfortunately had to stop all adoptions, fostering and other activities that may see the centre coming into contact with the general public for the time being.

“We have also put a temporary hold on accepting any animals which are non-emergency, and therefore we are only admitting animals via our Inspectorate and internal RSPCA networking teams to ensure those who have been abused, neglected, have an illness or injury can be cared for as a priority,” said Zoe.

The Martlesham Animal Home is currently housing over 70 animals at the moment, with a team of staff working tirelessly around the clock to ensure they’re looked after while waiting to be adopted – with some of staff even ‘taking their work home with them’.

“Some of our staff are fostering our animals too,” Zoe added. “We have a young puppy on foster with myself, and an adult dog who’s had a major operation on his leg and needs around four hours of physio per day, so our kennel supervisor is rehabilitating him from home while working everyday too.

“We were lucky to adopt many of our animals out prior to the lockdown to leave available for space for emergencies during this time. Although we are closed from the outside, on the inside we’re busy helping our fluffy residents every day. Until the time comes when we can start having visitors again, we will give them all of the care, love and attention they need day and night,” she said.

Would you like to adopt Bisley? PICTURE: Martlesham Animal Home

Would you like to adopt Bisley? PICTURE: Martlesham Animal Home - Credit: Archant

With the animals all safely being looked after, the Martlesham branch has unfortunately had to close all four of its charity shops for the time being.

“These generate around £4,500 per week to help our animal home and welfare clinic run – but we are very lucky to have had a voucher come through from Pets at Home Martlesham, so we can continue to buy our animals their essentials. However, funds are needed for veterinary treatment, heating and electrics, and overall running costs,” Zoe added.

For anyone who wishes to donate, please visit the branch’s Virgin Money Giving page which can be found on their website.

Cheques can also be sent to: RSPCA Suffolk East and Ipswich Branch Animal Centre, Mill Lane, Martlesham, IP12 4PD.

If you’re looking to go that one step further and give an animal their ‘fur-ever’ home once the lockdown is over and restrictions have been lifted, the Martlesham Animal Centre are still accepting application forms for any animals available for adoption on their website.

“Morale is still high,” Zoe added. “We know that our job is so important and so we are proud to come to work every day. It’s tough at times as we adhere to the 2 metre distancing rules, but it’s never lonely with so many beautiful species of animal to bond with.”

To find out more about adopting Dolly or Bisley, call 0300 999 7321, or visit their website.

Would you like to adopt Barney, a 10 year-old Springer? PICTURE: Suffolk Animal Rescue

Would you like to adopt Barney, a 10 year-old Springer? PICTURE: Suffolk Animal Rescue - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Animal Rescue

Over in Debenham is the Suffolk Animal Rescue, an independent shelter set up in 1997 by Jayne Roberts with the help of a couple of her colleagues. Its ethos is to help any dogs that need help, regardless of whether or not they’re ‘easy’ breeds to rehome. Suffolk Animal Rescue also specialises in feral cats.

“They need our help the most and we believe that once tamed, they will reward you tenfold with love and affection,” said Jayne.

Suffolk Animal Rescue is comprised of a cattery in Debenham run by Jayne, a smaller overflow facility in Ipswich run by her colleague Andrea, a kennel in Hemingstone and a charity shop in Ipswich. The kennels however are currently now closed, and Suffolk Animal Rescue is actively seeking rescue kennels within the local area.

But with the Covid-19 restrictions, it’s made things especially tricky for those working within the animal sector.

“Certainly this is a very difficult time in animal rescue,” said Jayne. “We are on lockdown, as are our animals.

“We are getting several adoption enquiries, particularly for our cats, but unfortunately I am in 12-week isolation due to a chronic health condition so I am unable to have any visitors to my property to meet any of our cats, nor any of my usual staff to help with the animal care.”

Tye is a nine year-old Labrador looking for his new family PICTURE: Suffolk Animal Rescue

Tye is a nine year-old Labrador looking for his new family PICTURE: Suffolk Animal Rescue - Credit: Archant

Thankfully for Jayne, Suffolk Animal Rescue was able to home most of their dogs before the start of the pandemic, with the remaining two having been taken into foster homes for the time being.

In terms of funding, like many charity shops and independents, the Suffolk Animal Rescue has had to shut its shop for the time being.

“We have of course had to close our charity shop in Felixstowe Road in Ipswich, and cancel all of our fundraising events. We have also struggled to get our usual supplies and have had to stockpile cat litter here, buying two pallets per order to ensure that we do not run out,” said Jayne.

But Jayne remains hopeful, and hopes it isn’t too long before the world is back on its feet. She said: “We are in very difficult, uncertain times and all we want to do is get back to what we do, which is rescuing animals in need. Obviously, the hope is that this awful time will not continue for too long, as we would like to be back in action before too many more animals find themselves without a home.”

“I deal mainly with feral cats and I am very aware of the problem this delay is going to cause in the feral world – litter after litter of kittens, rapidly becoming too many for us to trap and bring in to rehabilitate for domestic life. Funds have of course dried up too, apart from any online fundraising organised within the rescue,” said Jayne. “Sadly, all small independent rescues like ours are going to be hit badly and have ever-dwindling bank balances.”

If you’re interested in adopting Barney or Tye, please enquire by emailing suffolkar@hotmail.comFor more information on the work that Suffolk Animal Rescue does, or to donate, call 01728 860937, or visit their website.

Blue Cross Suffolk

Dumpling, currently being fostered by Blue Cross PICTURE: Blue Cross

Dumpling, currently being fostered by Blue Cross PICTURE: Blue Cross - Credit: Archant

Blue Cross has temporarily closed all of its rehoming centres to new admissions during the lockdown, apart from pets coming in via the charity’s animal hospitals in London and Grimsby, and any emergency cases.

Clare Williamson centre manager at Blue Cross Suffolk said: “The teams, including those at our centre at Bourne Hill in Wherstead, Suffolk, are focusing all of their efforts during the lockdown on the welfare of the pets already in their care. 90% of the cats, dogs, rabbits and hamsters at the centre have already been moved into foster homes.

“There are some pets who have needed to remain at the centre due to their care needs who are being taken care of by the team,” she added.

The whole team, along with their foster carers, are caring for pets in their homes, including Clare Williamson who is looking after five-year-old cockerpoo Lexi.

“Once we are no longer in this lockdown situation, the centre will reopen to admissions and rehoming and the team will be looking to get all our pets into loving homes as soon as possible,” Clare said.

“But currently it is critical that we keep our teams safe as well as the pets in our care and are able to have the space to provide help to those pets in urgent need.

Some of the pets who have been fostered by foster carers and the team at Blue Cross Suffolk include Dumpling and Edmund.

Edmund, currently being fostered by Blue Cross PICTURE: Blue Cross

Edmund, currently being fostered by Blue Cross PICTURE: Blue Cross - Credit: Archant

“We have been overwhelmed with the amazing amount of kind offers to foster our pets however at this time we are unable to take any more applications,” said Clare.

To find our more information about Blue Cross or to make a donation to help us continue to provide vital care and treatment to the animals in their care, visit their website.

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