Animal shelters full to bursting

AS they longingly look out from behind the wire of their makeshift homes more than 70 rabbits and guinea pigs bear testament to the number of animals struggling to find families to love them after the festive season.

BY SARAH GILLETT, sarah.gillett@eveningstar.co.uk>

AS they longingly look out from behind the wire of their makeshift homes more than 70 rabbits and guinea pigs bear testament to the number of animals struggling to find families to love them after the festive season.

Animal rescue shelters across Suffolk are today struggling to cope with an influx of unwanted pets with many already full to bursting point after one of the busiest years they have ever seen.

Thumper's rabbit rescue centre, in Elmcroft Road, Ipswich, is currently busier than ever.

The centre can house up to 70 rabbits and guinea pigs and is full at the moment, with another 30 animals on its waiting list.

Owner Diane Rogerson said: "At this time of year the re-homing side slows down. Over Christmas we have to be very careful about who we are giving them to as a lot of people still think they will make ideal presents.

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"We always get a big influx around February, people decide it's no fun cleaning them out during winter when it's cold and wet outside. The novelty wears off and people start to change their minds."

The Cats Protection League reports a similar situation, with most of its homes currently full to capacity. Judy Mills, co-ordinator of the Ipswich branch said: "We house around 60 cats at 'foster homes' in the Ipswich area and all of these are full at the moment. We've got about another 20 cats on our waiting lists."

The group also operates a policy of refusing to re-home cats in the run-up to Christmas in the hope of preventing people buying them on a whim as a present for their families or loved one.

But Mrs Mills agrees the message is getting through: "To be honest, I don't think it's a problem that's particularly linked to Christmas. We are rushed off our feet all year round. Homes are always needed for these animals."

And its not just cats and dogs that need re-homing. Other pets also get neglected, particularly over the winter months.

For more information about re-homing unwanted animals contact telephone the Cats Protection League on (01728) 685288, or Thumper's rabbit rescue centre on (01473) 434902.

N The RSPCA shelter in Martlesham, which has capacity for 23 dogs and around 20 cats, is also currently full and has a long waiting list. Can you help by giving any of them a home - see pages 10 and 11.

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