Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 23: Fostering Part 1

Our branch doesn't have an animal centre (it would cost about £1 million to build if anyone's up for it?!) so instead we use 3 private boarders for our dogs, cats, rabbits & piggies. They care for our animals on a daily basis and are wonderful. Obviously, it costs us but the care they receive is top-notch.

But sometimes we have animals that are sick, timid or just need a little extra TLC that a boarding environment can't provide. Enter our brilliant small network of foster carers. We have fosterers that care for
cats, kittens (all kittens under 5/6 months are kept in foster care with another cat) and puppies or dogs that can't cope in the kennel environment (although we desperately need more dog fosterers).

Piggies and rabbits being rather specialist and tricky to care for properly are fostered by myself, our branch manager Susie and another branch trustee. We don't have many that need fostering because the care they receive in boarding in wonderful but sometimes we are called upon. Hence why I have Mouse and Susie has a poorly rabbit called Samantha at the moment.

I've been thinking today about the animals I've fostered so here's a little potted history, Part 1...

1. Agatha
Agatha (named after Agatha Christie) was rescued a few streets away from where I live. A member of our staff was walking her dog and found a stray rabbit on a big main road in rush hour. We all met up and tried to catch this rabbit. Then it ran into a garden which turned out to be it's 'home'.

To our horror lots of rabbits (around 5 I recall) were running loose and not properly cared for. We ended up catching them all and taking them into our care as the owner admitted they couldn't cope and had let breeding get out of control. Agatha came off the worst and was covered in bites from the other unneutered rabbits fighting.

Luckily none of the wounds were infected and with some vet treatment and a proper diet she soon came round. She was such a live wire - keeping her in her cage whilst she was recovering from her spay was very fun! She did the most amazing binkies and hated being confined. Agatha found a lovely new home as a house rabbit and now well and truly rules the roost!

I always remember her rescue because of the response I got from a member of public when we were trying to catch these rabbits near a main road. He said 'Why are you taking them? They love running around!' - as if we were the cruel ones! Honestly.

2. Choc & Chip
I know this one is going to get some squeals because Choc & Chip's owner read this blog! These boys were rescued by an RSPCA Inspector. A dog walker had found them in a plastic box with a rabbit, abandoned in a wood in the middle of nowhere. They could have frozen, starved, attacked eachother or been eaten! Thankfully, we had space and took them in.

They were very skinny when they came in and had bad teeth from a presumed diet of mostly dried food
(there was some in the plastic box they were found in). When piggies (and rabbits, chinchillas) don't eat a large amount of fibre ie. hay their teeth start to grow abnormally. Luckily we had caught these 2 just in time. Within a couple of weeks of 80% hay, 20% veg diet their teeth had righted themselves. They soon put on weight and really came out of themselves.

It was a good few months before they found a home (boar pairs always take AGES to rehome). They are now very happy and much loved house piggies.

3. Tasha
 Tasha's story was very upsetting for us rabbit lovers. She was abandoned in a tiny hutch when her owners moved house, they just left her to starve. Luckily, one of our volunteers lived nearby and rescued her. Due to a diet of purely dried food it took us months and months to get her teeth right. She had to have a couple of dentals as well being weaned off dried food completely. It took a while but we got there in the end! If she had been left her teeth would have grow into 'spurs' and eventually she would have stopped eating and gone into stasis (fancy term for when the 'guts' stop working which is often fatal).

She lived in my bathroom for a few days because it was easier to get her back and forth to the vets! She loved being fussed and was such a pretty little girl.

Tasha now lives as a house rabbit and has totally forgotten her life outdoors, alone in a pokey hutch.

Check out the blog tomorrow for Part 2......

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