Shelter Life: December 2017

It’s a busy time for us here at the Shelter!

We have over 100 animals with us at the moment, looking for their new forever homes. While things for the cats remain pretty much unchanged – their individual, heated pods are quite cosy during the winter – for the dogs and small animals it is all change. With the dark mornings and early evenings we are forced to condense the dog walking in to fewer hours over the next few months, so it’s all hands on deck to get the kennels cleaned early and start the dog walking duties as soon as possible. With around 60 dogs to exercise every day, in order to give each one a decent walk we need at least 5 hours of daylight, reasonable weather and also the help of our invaluable volunteers. When you factor in that often dogs will need drying when they come back and before they go back to their kennels, plus the extra warm bedding we put in for them which increases the amount of laundry, winter is usually our busiest time as a kennel team!

It is similar for the small animals, the rabbits especially. Usually as winter comes and the temperature drops they are moved from their outdoor enclosures to spend the nights in our small animals shed. This moving back and forth and doubling up hutches means a busy time for Sam, our smalls rehomer. This year we have the added complication of building work taking place as our new Young Animals Building takes shape. Due to its proximity to the small animals if it is going to be a particularly noisy day of building work the animals need to be relocated elsewhere on site, so you can see the staff walking around with rabbits morning and evening to keep them safe and calm.

The added costs of heating and lighting the site means work increases for the Fundraising team here at the Shelter too. Events such as the Festive Evening earlier this month as well as many Christmas collections help, and we are lucky to receive the generous support of our donors at this time. It is a busy time for everyone and this is where our volunteers really come in to their own and without them we couldn’t hope to achieve the things we do.

So there’s a little insight in to life at the Shelter during these darker months. If you want to know more, are looking for a new family pet, or could assist us as a volunteer come down and see us…we’re never too busy to stop for a chat!

Shelter Life: October 2017

Here at the Shelter we make sure that the animal gets exercise and interaction every day, but even so they still spend a lot of their time in kennels or pods, so we have come up with ingenious ways of keeping them entertained. If animals aren’t mentally stimulated then they can quickly show signs of stress, and the same could be true of your pets at home so we thought we’d share some of our favourite techniques for keeping the animals busy.

Make Feeding Fun

There are many different feeding tools and games available for your pets, things that make it fun for your cat or dog to get at their food. These challenges make them work a bit harder and think a bit more about how to get to the tasty treats. Here at the Shelter we don’t have the money to buy these toys for all our animals, so we make our own! Snuffle mats are a great example, weaved material mats with lots of overlapping strands or hanging loose in which a handful of food can disappear. Dogs and cats will then go foraging, trying to dig out every last morsel of their lunch. The children on our Animal Days have been helping us make snuffle mats and some have made them for their dogs at home. You can find instructions in the Education section of our website.

One toy we do use a lot of is Kongs. These plastic shapes are perfect to pack with food or treats and can be left with dogs unattended for them to spend hours working on. In warmer months we even freeze the Kongs to make the fun last longer! We sell Kongs here at the Shelter and advise everyone adopting to take one.

Toys Don’t Have To Be Expensive

Having plenty of toys for your pet to play with is essential, whether it’s dogs or rabbits they just want to have fun like we do! Again we prefer to make our own and have several ideas on the website including rope tug toys woven from old scraps of material, toilet tubes stuffed with hay and treats for the small animals or catnip toys which are simpler to make than you might think! Even simple things like cardboard boxes with a hole in make great playthings for cats or hidey-holes for rabbits.

More Than Just A Walk

Of course nothing beats getting out for some proper exercise, but it is easy to get stuck in a rut of walking the same route every day which isn’t particularly stimulating for your dog. We employ some simple tools to make the dog walks more interesting and beneficial. Firstly, mix it up; walk somewhere different, vary the pace, do your route backwards or on the other side of the road. Use the time to work on some training, with a pocketful of treats you can work on sit or give paw while you wait for traffic lights for example. Make sure you give your dog plenty of opportunity to use their nose and have a sniff, and if they’re sociable let them meet other dogs and humans as much as possible.

With a few of these simple tools you should have a much happier pet who will be more active and intelligent, and they’re also good fun for you! You can find more details in the Education section of our website at www.gawa.org.uk

Shelter Life: September 2017

It’s no secret that as a charity we are working year round fundraising the £650,000 we need to keep the lights on and the animals fed, but you may be surprised to learn nearly a third of that income is from gifts left to us in wills.

Making a donation in your will, or legacy giving as it is often known, has been a popular way of supporting your favourite charities for a while now. Obviously we all have different priorities, and family will usually come first in any will, but many people are taking the opportunity to leave a gift to charities they have an affiliation with when their estate is divided up. Sometimes as a set amount or a percentage of their worth, or occasionally specific items such as jewelry. Whatever the amount it all contributes to the rescue and rehoming of over 800 animals a year, helping us feed the 100+ animals we have at any one time and protecting the future of the Shelter to ensure we can continue our work for years to come.

Leaving a lasting legacy not only helps the charity but may also help your family when settling your affairs. Charitable donations in your will can have a beneficial effect on the amount of Inheritance Tax payable by the beneficiaries of your will. Not only are charity donations exempt from tax but they may also reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax due on what remains for your family.

In order to help our supporters to benefit from this and to make legacy giving as simple as possible, we have recently partnered with a number of local solicitors to offer a free will writing service, completely free of obligation. We can provide you with the details of local solicitors who can draw up a simple will for you (and your partner), and then invoice the Shelter at a greatly reduced rate. Whilst we obviously hope that you would remember the Shelter among those benefiting from your last wishes, there is no obligation to do so.

We are also offering piece of mind to those pledging to leave us a legacy, by guaranteeing to care for and rehome any domestic pets you leave behind. Knowing your furry loved ones will be okay can be a great relief.

To request your Free Will Writing packCLICK HERE