Animals dumped at rescue centre
By Ted JeoryTHEY were wrapped up as gifts on Christmas Day and left abandoned in a plain box on New Year's Day.No matter how many appeals are made about pets at this time of year, the story remains the same, according to Maureen Taylor, who owns Mistley Place Animal Park with her husband, Mike.
By Ted Jeory
THEY were wrapped up as gifts on Christmas Day and left abandoned in a plain box on New Year's Day.
No matter how many appeals are made about pets at this time of year, the story remains the same, according to Maureen Taylor, who owns Mistley Place Animal Park with her husband, Mike.
Together they care for about 2,000 animals, a population that increased after they found a box of rabbits left inside their gates last week and two puppies just before Christmas.
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These new arrivals now live alongside other rescued horses, mice, snakes and owls – and Pepe the skunk – at the centre.
The vegetarian couple bought the 250 acres near Manningtree 15 years ago after giving up their life running hotels in Otley.
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It had been run as a dairy farm for goats and Mrs Taylor said: "They used to breed the female goats for milk and keep the billy goats to eat. There was no way that we would do that, so we were left with these farm animals, which we looked after."
She added they never intended to keep cats and dogs, but all that changed when the RSPCA failed to find a home for a German shepherd called Bobby.
"He had been extremely ill-treated, but we had six wonderful years with him – he was fantastic. Then somebody left an old tom cat with us and gradually people began to realise they could leave all their unwanted pets with us and things just snowballed," said Mrs Taylor.
At the moment Mrs Taylor is also caring for Eddie the lurcher, whose leg was badly broken. "He really needs to have a good home – away from hare coursers," she added.
But the centre's growing population comes at a cost with food and vet bills averaging £2,500 a month. The couple try to raise money by charging a small entrance fee in warmer weather and also by running a tea room.
But now the café has been closed for six months while another is built and that has added to the winter difficulties.
Mrs Taylor said: "We need to find £150,000, but we haven't been donated a penny yet. We'd love people to help." Anyone wishing to make a donation should contact 01206 396048.