Nor West News : January 29th 2015
300 NOR-WEST NEWS, JANUARY 29, 2015 NEWS www.stuff.co.nz Dedicated helpers SPCA’s lifeblood Volunteering at SPCA Auckland is not all cuddles and fluffy bunnies, but more than 1000 people sacrifice their time to help animals in need every year. Reporter Katasha McCullough spent a day volunteering at the organisation’s headquarters in Mangere to discover the good, the bad and the ugly of animal welfare. My first instruction upon arriving at the SPCA is not to steal any cats. It’s meant in jest but I have to wonder if SPCA staff are blessed with not only an ingrained passion for hard work and helping animals but also mind-reading abilities. Or maybe it’s just imposs- ible for anyone to visit without wanting to adopt a new pet. My day starts with a tour by customer services manager Rebecca Laird. ‘‘It’s a bit of rabbit warren in here, forgive the pun,’’ she says, in between the hospital, education centre, reception and barn. I’m handed over to feline team leader Jenna Fowler who takes me through an average morning in the life of a cattery or rabbitry volunteer. There’s feeding, cleaning cages and emptying of litter trays, all while obeying a strict hygiene regime. It’s tough but enjoyable work, with plenty of time to make four-legged friends in between my duties. Volunteers Jenny Callis and Lyn McAllister share the four-hour afternoon shift in the cattery every Wednesday. Both signed up to volunteer when they retired. ‘‘I love animals, especially cats, and wanted to help them a little bit if I could and support the SPCA, which I think is a wonderful organisation,’’ Callis says. McAllister has always owned cats. ‘‘I really love seeing the cats go to good homes.’’ The volunteers range from the minimum age of 18 to early 80s and often help the SPCA in more ways than one. Raylene Rendenna spends her days in the rabbitry but fosters cats and kittens at home. She managed to resist the urge to keep one until her third foster kitten, which she adopted. Fellow rabbitry volunteer Anya Veryaskina has a cat and dog of her own but also fosters guinea pigs. Laird says the volunteers come all the way from Silverdale to Waiuku. ‘‘We absolutely could not survive without our loyal volunteers who are dedicated to coming out and assisting. They’re our lifeblood, without a doubt.’’ The day I visit there is an unusually low number of cats and high number of rabbits. The figures rise and fall with the cat breeding season Snugly spot: Jake the dog makes himself at home in the SPCA office. Visiting: Leo comes into work a few days a week with owner Courtney Standing, the SPCA’s volunteer and fostering co-ordinator. Dinner time: Reporter Katasha McCullough lends a hand in the SPCA cattery. while, as Fowler puts it, ‘‘the universe decides’’ how many rabbits the SPCA has. During the busy period between mid-October and May the organisation can get up to 150 cats and kittens every day. Some are dropped off to the front desk, others are dumped in plastic bags at the front gate. Some have wounds after being shot with air guns. ‘‘There’s all sorts of pretty cruel and indecent behaviour by human beings,’’ Laird says. A morning lap of the prop- erty is now routine for staff to check for any abandoned animals. Fowler says after a cat has been vet-checked, temperament tested and desexed, it will stay in the cattery for as long as it takes to find a home. ‘‘A lot of people think it’s about getting as many cats out the door as possible. But we’re a welfare organisation and the cat’s welfare is most important.’’ In the interest of staying on good terms with the cat I already own, I manage to leave at the end of the day without a new furry companion. But I’m buoyed by the knowledge that each abandoned, neglected or unwanted animal that arrives on the SPCA’s doorstep is in good hands. For every ‘‘cruel and indecent human being’’ out there, there’s also a Jenna Fowler, Jenny Callis or Raylene Rendenna. And they’re always going to help those who need them most. Cat lover: Volunteer Lyn McAllister with Sophia the cat. Mucking in: Reporter Katasha McCullough makes up fresh litter trays for the next cleaning session. Unwavering support: Jenny Callis has volunteered at the SPCA every week since 2010. THENUMBERS In the 2013 to 2014 financial year it cost $7.8 million to run SPCA Auckland. The organisation gets no government funding, relying solely on fundraising. Despite the financial hurdles, last year the SPCA helped Auckland’s animals in many ways. ❚ Attended 5902 animal rescue call-outs and 625 emergencies ❚ Investigated 3310 animal welfare complaints ❚ Issued 600 compliance and written warnings ❚ Seized 185 animals from their owners ❚ Gave 13,607 animals basic health checks ❚ Performed 4039 desexing operations and 375 surgical operations ❚ Provided 6105 vaccinations ❚ 471 foster families gave temporary homes to 2069 animals ❚ 150 volunteers donated 40,189 hours of their time. Curious cat: Three-year-old Pandora was at the SPCA looking for a forever home in October.
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