SOUTHRIDGE is becoming more and more reliant on the financial support o the Friends, Anna White, Centre Manager, told the AGM. This was because funding from Headquarters was so stretched.

‘The year’, said Anna, ‘had been a strange and somewhat difficult one, with dog and cat adoptions both showing dramatic drops. This was not because of the recession, as many would think. The young, the pretty and those without behavioural issues still fly out of here. I believe that there are two main reasons. Firstly and mainly because we have been continuing to work under the RSPCA generated animals only rule, and secondly the types of animals admitted to the centre.

Southridge is a Headquarters funded centre which means we must run under the policies that HQ puts into place. One of these policies is RSPCA generated animals. In practice the theory is totally sound-that we give priority to the animals most in need, those animals that have been rescued by the Inspectors. In reality it seems for centres like ours to be flawed. We have found ourselves filling up with large numbers of more challenging and less “generally appealing/suitable” animals to try and find homes for.

In the past Southridge has always done very well finding homes for the more challenging animals whether they are dogs or cats. It is now something we are beginning to struggle with-what has happened is that we always worked hard to take in the neediest animals from both the public and the Inspectorate but we also tried to take in a percentage of “popular” or  more in- demand types of animals. This kept the public coming through the doors of the centre and once they were here we were able to suggest they looked at certain animals that we felt might be suitable for them. This was the way a lot of our long- stay or challenging animals found homes. By finding them homes quickly we were able to take in larger numbers of animals rescued by the Inspectors.

With RSPCA generated we have not been able to continue to work in this way, and over the past two years we have noticed footfall to the centre drop considerably. If people do not come in then we cannot show, suggest or talk to them about the animals that on paper do
not generally appeal.

‘Practically every animal that comes in is in need of veterinary treatment .This is putting a terrible strain on our budget. We are worried, because before we always homed enough animals to generate a good income both in adoption fees and in shop sales. With the decline of adoptions our shop sales income has also lessened. With so many sick and injured animals and with our kennels permanently full our bills are still as high as before. We are terrified that our veterinary budget will be cut, not because someone is being horrible but because if the money is not there it is not there. It would be easy to cut costs of vet treatment, we would just treat less animals, but this would mean substantially increased euthanasia, something unpalatable to all of us.

‘Our spend is and has always been significantly higher than that of other centres because we work to a practically non-destruction policy. The Friends have always stood as a buffer between euthanasia and the most vulnerable of the animals, those animals that in many places would not get a second chance at a life. Thanks to the Friends we are able to give them the second chance that they so deserve.

‘With funding so stretched from HQ we are becoming more and more reliant on the financial support of the Friends. If it was not for the Friends Southridge would be a very different Centre’ she added.