Animal charity the Scottish SPCA had its busiest ever 12 months in 2013 – with this year shaping up to be another record-breaker.
It handled 228,000 calls, an increase of 17 per cent on 2012 figures, and carried out 20,000 investigations into abused and mistreated pets.
Last year also saw it rehome more animals than at any time in the past and release more wildlife back into nature.
While the bumper year was good news for pets, Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said the charity needs donations now more than ever.
“We receive no funding from the government or lottery – we can only operate because of the generosity of the public and we do really well with donations. But, of course, we are always looking for more, the more we have the more work we can do.
“As an organisation, every penny is utilised, we don’t have fancy offices or spend money where we don’t need to. Everything goes on frontline services.”
The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals not only rescues abused and neglected pets, but also help to rehome abandoned animals, educate on how to care for pets and rehabilitate injured wildlife to return their natural habitat. Mike continued: “Caring for abused animals is only a tiny part of what we do but it’s what people associate the Scottish SPCA with most.
“I’ve been with the Scottish SPCA for 29 years and in that time the type of abuse hasn’t changed – there is still dog fighting, badger baiting and violence to pets but thankfully it’s the minority of cases we see.
“Most are just people out of their depth, people who have taken on an animal without the adequate knowledge or funds to properly care for them.”
Pet sales over the Internet are a huge problem for the charity. A quick search in the Falkirk Gumtree website brings up dozens of puppies and dogs for sale or being given away.
Mike continued: “There are some genuine sellers on these sites, but there are also lots of people purely out to make money.
“We increasingly see pups being shipped to the area from Ireland or Europe, often very ill, because they can be bought cheaply and sold with a huge profit margin.
“The sellers don’t care what kind of home the pup will go to and make tax free cash.
“People see these cute pups pictures online and take them without thinking how big they will get or if they can afford the vet fees and they often then end up in our centres or back online to be sold again.”
The Scottish SPCA has seen a huge increase in abandoned horses as their price drops. Ponies can now be bought very cheaply and families are taking them on without considering the expense.
The charity also saw a 50 per cent increase in abandoned cats in some rescue centres and many exotic creatures, like snakes and lizards, arrivve after escaping from their cages and never being claimed by their owners.
Mike said: “If anyone is looking for a pet, I’d urge them to come to us first. There are all sorts at our shelters, from Heinz 57 varieties type dogs, to pure breeds, horses, reptiles and small furry mammals.
“Not only will you be rescuing an animal, but helping the charity by clearing a space to help another vulnerable animal.”
For more information on rehoming or donating to the Scottish SPCA, visit www.scotishspca.org.
Legislation helped to lock away abuser
Since 2006, Scottish SPCA officers have had the power to enforce legislation, making it easier to prosecute those who abuse or neglect animals.
The powers helped to bring evil farmer Charles Swan to justice last year.
Swan was jailed for eight months after admitting running an illegal puppy farm near Airth where he neglected the dogs that made him a fortune.
Scottish SPCA officers were horrified to find pups enduring filthy cages and no fresh water or bedding. They were denied veterinary attention and many had lice.
In total 57 dogs were removed from his care including female Rottweiler Lizzie, who had lost both ears in an injury consistent with a dog fight.
The wound become infested with maggots and she also suffered immune difficulties – after a year in SSPCA care she sadly lost her fight for life.
Mike Flynn said: “The case was harrowing for everyone involved, not least the poor dogs. Swan saw them solely as profit machines but after a lengthy investigation and lots of effort from our officers, we were happy to see him jailed .”
SSPCA in numbers
175 ... years the Scottish SPCA has been running
9 ... number of SSPCA rehoming centres in Scotland
3.5 million ... amount in pounds spent on the SSPCA Wildlife Centre in Fishcross which opened in 2012
6563 ... animals were rehomed last year
2939 ... wild animals rehabilitated in 2013
4.8 million ... what will be spent extending the Glasgow centre
1 ... minimum amount in pounds you can pledge to donate monthly