Our figures for last year have now been finalised, and we are pleased to report a marked increase in the number of animals rehomed from the Venton Centre. Including a large number of wildlife casualties, which were either treated and released from the Centre, or transferred to the RSPCA specialist wild animal unit at West Hatch, 472 animals passed through the Centre during 2020.
A total of 267 animals were found new homes, which is an increase of almost 25% on the 214 total in 2019. This breaks down as follows:
In addition to the adoptions above, 13 animals were also returned to their owners.
This is a huge achievement in a year when the Covid-19 Lockdown hit us extremely hard in March, reducing our ability to rescue and rehome animals in the normal way. We are still suffering the effects of restrictions, but have adapted to new ways of working despite being forced to close the Centre to public visitors. The credit for our increased rehoming numbers must go to our new Centre management and our dedicated staff, who have continued to work very hard to keep all the animals safe and maintain our adoption efforts in very difficult circumstances.
Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to process applications for our cat neutering vouchers. A total of 862 vouchers were issued to residents of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, at a cost of £34,480. We also offered Welfare Assistance vouchers to provide a small contribution to owners on means-tested benefits who are struggling to pay vet bills; 58 welfare vouchers were issued, amounting to £2,435.
Our free cat micro-chipping vouchers for owners on means-tested benefits only came to 14 for the whole year, which is disappointing. We cannot stress enough the importance of micro-chipping, having experienced several happy reunions of missing cats and their owners.
The Bull Breed neutering scheme which we run in conjunction with Devon and Cornwall Police, only requested support for 1 dog at a cost of £158, but this was reduced due to Covid-19 and we expect demand to pick up during 2021.
Our annual income took a direct hit from the Covid-19 restrictions, with charity shops closing. We suspended our fundraising events, but our loyal supporters have risen to the challenge and taken part in Facebook auctions, our socially-distanced Santa’s Grotto, birthday fundraiser appeals and made much appreciated financial donations. Our new Social Media Officer has engaged the public through Facebook to encourage support and contributions, and develop different ways of fundraising for the Branch. Our Branch Development Manager also signed up 8 corporate heroes – companies who have sponsored the Branch. We are keen to enlist more if any local businesses would like to join us.
In 2020, we also appointed a Volunteer Co-ordinator to review and update our volunteer process and start a recruitment drive. We were inundated with applications, but have been forced to postpone the volunteer induction. We appreciate this is frustrating to those who are keen to join us at the Centre, but please rest assured that we will start this process again as soon as rules permit.
Similarly, preparations to launch our Secure Dog Paddock hire facility were postponed twice, but finally opened at the end of March. This is already proving popular and the hire fees are a welcome boost to our income.
Despite a sometimes stressful and very disrupted 2020, we feel proud to have continued to help unwanted and abandoned animals throughout Cornwall. We must thank our staff for their efforts to continue “business as usual” where possible. We also send our appreciation our existing volunteers who have been hampered by lockdown, but are waiting in the wings to return when the current rules are lifted and Centre operations begin return to normal.
Most of all, we must express our gratitude to all our supporters throughout the year, without whom we would not be able to continue – Thank you everyone!