RSPCA launches welfare hub in Rushden to help Northamptonshire pet owners
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The charity’s county branch has set up the all-encompassing service at its centre in Newton Road, Rushden.
It is open to members of the public who want advice on pet adoptions from the charity or who may need animal welfare help.
As well as offering pet food to owners who are facing financial hardship, staff are also on hand to give welfare advice to ensure local animals’ needs are also being met.
The branch also has discretionary veterinary vouchers available to pay for treatment to help pet owners who are facing hardship and their beloved pets.
Dawn Smith, welfare operations manager at the branch, said: “Sadly, it seems as though the cost of living crisis means that more people are struggling to afford to feed their pets and are relying on the food banks more and more.
“We set up the pet food bank scheme because we understood that many people were falling on hard times and we wanted to make sure that those who were struggling could still stay with their pets while they got back on their feet.
“By coming to us for emergency food we also get the opportunity to have pet welfare discussions at the same time.
"We can also help owners with veterinary advice and vouchers to help pay for any potential treatment.
“We don’t want people to avoid veterinary help for their pets because they are worried about the cost.
"This will potentially cause the pet to suffer and often we find early intervention can stop costly treatment further down the line.
“The RSPCA understands that pets are family members and know how important it is to keep owners who have just fallen on hard times with their pets, wherever possible.
"Keeping them together during difficult times benefits both the owners and the animals’ well-being and also helps to tackle some of the strain on rescue centres who are struggling to cope with the amount of animals coming to them.”
Users of the service in Northamptonshire include those who have lost their jobs or had been made homeless, many are using the food bank and advice service as a stop gap until they get back on their feet.
As well as helping pet owners - who can call in during the centre’s opening hours of 10am until 4pm Monday to Friday - a range of networking and educational events are run from the hub, as well as pop up forums and clinics.
The centre recently held an animal welfare forum which involved other animal charities and the local authority to discuss partnership working to help those in need.
Youth events have been held at the centre and the local RSPCA is organising educational visits in schools as part of a prevention programme to help young people understand and respect animals with the aims of preventing cruelty towards animals in the future.
The charity is also expanding its food bank distribution and any surplus pet food donations given to the branch will be distributed to other community groups running food banks in the area.