This article was written by Sarah in December 2021 but it remains relevant two years later
By Sarah Laverne. Marley is an affectionate little cat with a sleek black coat and wide yellow eyes that reveal his friendly soul. He loves cuddles and in recent weeks has become a real lap cat. When he arrived at the Bath Cats and Dogs Home, Marley was struggling, having recently been diagnosed with diabetes. The animal care team knew that his journey to recovery would be long and arduous. After much love and dedication, a special diet and twice-daily insulin injections, his condition has already improved and when he is well enough, he will make a wonderful companion.
Marley’s story is the heart-warming backdrop for the Bath Cats and Dogs Home’s Winter Appeal, which focuses on the new challenges brought on by Covid.
The Covid crisis has been tough on the rehoming centre, with fundraising events cancelled, valuable volunteers often unable to help and office staff forced to work offsite. But recently, animal carers have also started to witness the less obvious impacts of the pandemic, with many animals like Marley coming into their care with more complex medical needs or problems such as a lack of socialisation.
“We’re really aware that lots and lots of people are just facing unprecedented challenges this year” says Vanessa Langford, Press Officer for the home. As the pandemic continued to take its toll, caring for seriously ill animals became more difficult. Pet owners were sometimes unable to travel, people’s personal wellbeing may have been impacted or veterinary costs may have proved too expensive for many facing financial hardships.
In recent months, the vets and animal carers have tended to an increased number of animals suffering with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes like lovely Marley, or other complex health issues including infectious diseases, osteoarthritis or pancreatitis. These often require prolonged treatment and intensive, time-consuming rehabilitation. “So much of the care happens on site” stresses Vanessa and many of these animals will stay at the home for weeks, perhaps months.
Although tucked away from the general bustle, the veterinary suite at the Bath Cats and Dogs Home buzzes with activity. Here, the four-legged residents receive their vaccinations or routine checks, and are neutered, ready to be handed to their loving new owners. The recent surge in patients with complex illnesses has added more pressure on the teams’ time and the home’s resources.
Also trotting through the home’s gates since the pandemic were a few older puppies who lacked socialisation skills. “We can only assume that this is because the last 18 months have been very strange for everybody and things like puppy classes haven’t been taking place”, suggests Vanessa. Perhaps also, with repeated lockdowns and strict distancing rules, people have been unable to socialise with other dog owners.
The under-socialised puppies have now been entrusted to the behaviourists, who will spend loving time working on their manners and behaviour.
All this “invisible care” is intensive on staff and resources. So, as golden leaves slowly fall from the autumn trees and the icy winds are kind enough to bring with them a hint of festive spirit, the Bath Cats and Dogs Home are launching a new campaign. Vanessa explains that “the Winter Appeal is focusing on the challenges posed by all the animals coming into the home with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, like Marley, or problems such as lack of socialisation.” Loyal and new supporters can donate online now, and every penny goes towards supporting animals in need.
Christmas shopping is another way to help. The Bath Cats and Dogs Home Charity Shop on Moorland Road is teeming with festive spirit: shelves and racks are overflowing with pre-loved outfits and stylish jewellery for Christmas gatherings, eco-conscious gifts such as cookbooks, records and ornamental pieces, and endearing animal-themed Christmas cards.
“Although it’s been a really hard 18 months, we have had such amazing support from the people who have been with us all the way”, says Vanessa. “We’re so grateful to everybody who has been there and donated and still been able to support us from afar”. And despite the challenges, the home has never failed to fulfil its mission of rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in need.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before Marley and friends can curl up in the warmth of their forever homes, some perhaps in time to catch the twinkle of Christmas lights. Until then, the veterinary, behaviourist and animal care teams at the Bath Cats and Dogs Home will continue to work tirelessly to nurse them, socialise them and love them on our behalf.
To support the Bath Cats and Dogs Home visit www.bcdh.org.uk