How do cats come to be in your care?
Cats come to us for a number of reasons – some are strays, others get left behind when their owners move home, some owners are unable to keep them due to a change in circumstances such as a new addition to the family, allergies, or moving home and unable to take them. The list of reasons sadly is endless. Occasionally they are just abandoned at the rescue, so we never find out the reason they are no longer wanted.
Once you’ve decided to take a cat in, what happens next?
Once we have admitted a cat it is placed in a pen away from other cats. We aim to made them feel as comfortable as possible with; warm bedding, somewhere to hide if they are feeling stressed, their litter tray, water, food and toys. It will be health checked by the cattery staff, weighed, wormed and de-flead. The cat will then be seen by our vet at the earliest opportunity. They will be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Assessments are ongoing from cattery staff to try and get as much information about the cats personality and the type of home they are looking for. When ready to be adopted they are added to our website and advertised on our social media. Some cats can leave within 2 weeks of being admitted, others may take longer depending on their health, vaccination status or needing socialisation.
What do you do if you get reports of a stray cat?
It is hard to determine what a stray cat is. A cat in your garden may simply be passing through, or if you’ve not seen it before it may be new to the area. Even if you suspect a cat is stray, please do not feed it. The cat will then view you as a ‘feeder’ and will be inclined to hang around. If you have any concerns about the condition of a cat that you consider to be stray please try and take it to a vet to see if it is microchipped. Placing a paper collar on the cat to see if it has an owner is also advisable. Cats that are genuine strays may be added to our waiting list and we will help as soon as we are able.
Can I come and meet the cats?
We do ask that you make an appointment to come and meet them, and we may also require you to completed an application form to adopt before meeting our cats and kittens.
Where are your cats housed?
All of our cats available for adoption are usually on site, in our cattery. If the cat is older or has medical needs they may be in a foster home. Pregnant mothers and those with very young kittens are often in foster too, or our kittery.
How many cats do you have on site?
Across out two recue centres we can have between 55 and 90 cats and kittens on site, depending on the time of year for kittens. Not all of these may be ready or available for adoption.
How can you help me adopt the right cat for me?
At our Liverpool rescue we ask you to complete a cat application form this gives us information regarding your home situation, location, other pets, family members and helps us to understand the cat is the right cat for you! We would then make an appointment for you to come and meet the cat/s. At our Wales rescue we may ask you to complete an application form , or to come and meet the cats first.
Once a cat has been chosen, or a cat chooses you, Cattery Staff will then talk to you and get as much information as possible, and also discuss with you the personality of the cat to ensure it is the right cat for you.
Can I have a home check before I chose a cat?
This may depend on the circumstances of the cat you are interested in. We can carry out our home checks virtually, but in some circumstances we may need to arrange a physical visit home check. Either way you will need to meet the cats and spend time with them before adopting though.
You charge an adoption fee. Is this fee how much you have to spend on each cat before it is rehomed?
The adoption fee is rarely reflective of the cost to care for the animals, this will vary between cats. For young healthy cats our initial outlay is for flea and worming treatment, a course of vaccinations, neutering and micro-chipping. However, a lot of cats we take in have other issues such as allergies, cat flu, injuries, thyroid issues (in older cats), so the costs for their initial, and sometimes ongoing, treatment can be high.
I live a long way from the rescue centre, will you still rehome to me?
Yes, as we can home check virtually. , However ,we will take into account the needs of the cat with regards to travelling times. Very young kittens or elderly cats do not travel well.
I work full time, can I still adopt a cat?
Yes! Cats are very independent creatures and also sleep a lot! We just ask that there is access to shelter via a cat flap to your home or access into a shed, garage or outbuilding. This ensures if the weather turns bad, or the cat feels threatened, from whatever source, they will have a place of safety to retreat to.
However, for young kittens we do need to be sure that there is a neighbour or family member who can visit for the first few months. This is because kittens need to be fed multiple meals a day initially, so having someone around is essential.
When are you more likely to have kittens at the rescue? Is it a certain time of year?
Kitten season does vary, usually late Spring/early Summer. You can apply for a kitten through our kitten application form on our website, and we can contact you when they start arriving!.
What happens if I have problems with the cat I adopt? Can I return them ?
Our Cattery Staff are always available to give as much help and advice as possible to try and prevent this from happening. Cats do need time to settle in their new homes, some do not show their personalities right away and may need a few weeks to get used to their new surroundings.
Why do you neuter, vaccinate and microchip all of your cats?
Apart from prevention of pregnancies, neutering both male and female cats has major health and behavioural benefits. Vaccinations help prevent quite common illnesses in cats such as cat flu, and Calicivirus; both of which can have a long term and very detrimental effect on your cat’s health. All adult cats leaving the rescue are microchipped to ensure that if they are found straying they can hopefully be reunited with their owners. We remain a second contact on the chip registration, so the cats are always guaranteed a safe place with us until we can hopefully reunite them with their adopters.
What do you do to ensure your cats are happy and enrich their lives?
We try to provide a homely environment for all of our cats. We provide light, bright , warm and comfortable pens with access to the outdoors for adult cats, along with toys, boxes, scratch posts, and have regular volunteers who come in and spend time grooming, playing with and giving treats to all the cats in our care. Cattery Staff give as many hugs and cuddles out as possible on a daily basis.
Can you offer me help and advice on integrating my new cat with my existing cat?
Cattery Staff will give as much help and advice as necessary to help you integrate a new cat into a house with an existing cat – even if the cat hasn’t been adopted from us. Why not give us a call?
How can volunteers help your cats?
We have many volunteers who come in early in the morning to help clean and feed our cats on site. We could not manage without them. We also have other volunteers who come in to groom, socialise and spend time with the cats, often bringing them tasty treats!
Do you have cats in foster homes?
Yes. We use foster homes during kitten season when we need a safe and calm environment for expectant and nursing mums. We also use foster homes for old or ill cats who are not coping well with rescue life.
If I live on a busy main road will you let me adopt a cat?
Our policy is not to re-home cats who need outdoor space to a home on a busy main road. However, we sometimes have cats that are more suited to being an indoor cat. Please speak to Cattery Staff about your situation and we will advise on what is the best thing to do. We will always home cats based on their needs.
Why do some cats have to live indoors?
This may be due to health reasons , including deafness and blindness, or because they are FIV positive. They may have always lived indoors and therefore not savvy to any dangers outdoors. Sometimes simply just down to their personality, some cats can be very nervous and easily spooked, so for their own safety an indoor life is best for them.
What is FIV and do you rehome cats with this condition?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a lifetime illness. It depletes the number of white blood cells meaning the cat is less able to fight off infection. It is transmitted from cat to cat, mainly through biting. It cannot be passed to humans or other animals. . It is more likely to be found in un-neutered Toms who spread this disease through fighting. We do re-home FIV cats but insist that unless you have a catio or cat proof outdoor space the cat must be an indoor only cat to prevent it from coming into contact with other cats, potentially increasing the chance of the infection being passed on
What is your waiting list and why do you need to operate it?
The waiting list allows people who need to rehome their cat, but who are not in an immediately desperate situation, to be contacted when a space become available for us to take them in.
We operate this for the simple reason that the centre is always full to capacity. There are only so many cats that we can physically fit in whilst continuing to provide a high standard of care.
We sometimes have to close our list due to the high number of cats that are on it. As we often have to deal with immediate emergencies it can be very difficult to admit from the waiting list and we are unable to give a timescale. We will always try and help if we can.
Can I bring my cat to the rescue to see how it mixes with the cats in the rescue?
No. Being in a rescue environment is stressful for any cat. Bringing your own cat here to meet a potential friend will just be stressful for both cats, and also not give a true indication of how they would normally deal with and react to each other.
What is a feral cat?
Feral cats are cats who have been born outside of a home environment, often to long term strays, and therefore never had human contact. Usually they are un-neutered and they will continue to breed and so the chain continues. Feral cats are very defensive, and when confronted they can become aggressive towards humans. They tend to live in colonies with other feral cats being their family. People sometimes call stray cats ‘feral’, but strays will come to humans, even if they are a little wary. Feral will not let humans approach them.
How do you help feral cats? Do you keep them on site and do you rehome them?
It is cruel to keep a feral cat contained, they have always had freedom to roam, and we do not admit feral cats to the centre. We can sometimes help by loaning traps so the cats can be caught and neutered, to avoid colonies forming. We may also be able to provide Cat Protection vouchers to assist in the cost of neutering.
Occasionally if an area is unsafe to return a feral cat or cats to and would be seriously detrimental to their wellbeing, we will request homes for small groups in places such as riding stables, farms or small holdings. The adopter will need to feed the cats daily, as they would a companion cat, and maintain their health but otherwise allow them to live their lives undisturbed.
How long can cats live for?
Domestic cats can live for up to 20 years or more. Cats are a long-term commitment, and this should be taken into account when considering adoption. Adopters ages are asked during the application stages so we can match them with appropriately aged cats.
How do dogs get to be in your care?
Our dogs come from all kinds of situations. People usually phone us about a dog needing help, sometimes they just arrive at our door. Other rescues can also ask for help. The most common reasons for dogs being given up are work commitments, young children in the home, divorce or relationship breakdowns, death of an owner, properties where pets aren’t allowed, illness and financial problems. We operate a ‘waiting list’ so we can take details of dogs that need help; this is because we can’t always help dogs immediately, due to lack of kennel space.
Once you’ve decided to take a dog into the shelter, what happens next?
The first thing that happens is a ‘disclaimer’ form is filled out. This legal document means the dog officially becomes our ‘property’. The form is completed with as much information as possible about the dog. This will help when it comes to rehoming the dog in the future. At the next vet visit the dog is given a thorough health check; he is weighed, wormed, defleaed, and microchipped if not already done. If necessary, an appointment is made for neutering. Once the dog is settled in and we have assessed them we will put a profile on our website to open up applications for adoption.
Why don’t you let the public view your dogs in their kennels?
It can be very distressing for a dog to see strangers in their ‘home’ environment. If a stranger stands and stares at them in their kennel they will become excited, fearful, protective, or sometimes feel all of these emotions, and they can react in a very negative way. The stranger will therefore not see a true reflection of the dog’s personality and it is likely all of the dogs in the kennel block will become disturbed and upset too.
How many kennels do you have?
In Liverpool, we have 3 kennel blocks. There are 18 kennels in total, each one has an inside bedroom area and an outside run. We also have some rooms, which house dogs these are more like a home environment with curtains, sofas and rugs. In addition, some dogs are in foster families.
Why do you neuter, vaccinate, and microchip all your dogs?
Vaccinations ensure the dog is protected from harmful diseases. Microchipping is the easiest and fasted way of making sure you are reunited with your dog if it ever goes missing, and it is a legal requirement.. Neutering is extremely important because there are huge numbers of unwanted dogs being destroyed every year. There are not enough homes available for the dogs that already exist, yet still people breed – both by accident and purposely. Neutering a dog makes it impossible to breed from it. Neutering also prevents many cancers and other serious medical conditions.
Why does it sometimes take so long to be able to adopt a dog?
We need to be as sure as possible that we have matched the right person to the right dog. This often means asking you to spend more time with a dog than just one visit; this allows the dog to bond with you, gain confidence and trust you. If a dog has behavioural issues, we need to be sure that you are fully aware of them and can deal with them. We believe that your commitment to a dog should be for the rest of their life; so spending a few weeks getting to know them first makes sense!
What do you do to make sure your dogs are happy and enrich their lives?
Our dogs receive the very best care we can possibly give them. We make their kennels and rooms as comfortable and homely as possible, and make sure they are always clean and dry. We always think about– how can we reduce noise, disturbances, when can we give them a break, new ways of helping them pass the time, how to make their exercise areas more stimulating etc. We have many different exercise areas, and the dogs use different areas twice a day on most days. we have a large exercise field filled with purpose built doggy activities to stimulate all their senses. We are also lucky enough to have a large volunteer base of helpers and walkers. Every one of our dogs has a dedicated walker who takes them, for a restful time away from the stress of kennel life. Some even go out on day trips, home visits, and overnight stays.
Why do you ‘advertise’ some dogs on your website that are still in their own homes?
As we are restricted by the space have, we look for other ways to help dogs in need. If someone comes to us about a dog, or one is added to our waiting list, that we think we can rehome directly from its existing home, then we will advertise it on our website. We will meet and assess the dog first and once their details are on our website our standard procedure for rehoming is followed. Generally we only try and rehome dogs that are good with children, other dogs, have no history of biting or behavioural issues in this way. Occasionally we will advertise dogs that don’t fit this category because their situation is desperate.
I have children under five years old, why can’t I adopt a dog?
We are always responsible for the dog and the home in which we place it. We feel strongly that it would be irresponsible of us to rehome a dog where there are children aged 5 years or under. Young children cannot be relied upon to remember 100% of the time what they should and shouldn’t do to dogs, and how they should or shouldn’t behave when dogs are around. Rescue dogs have often had an unstable past, and sometimes we don’t know anything about their history Many dogs on our waiting list are being given up because they do not get on with or cannot be trusted with young children even though it’s often through no fault of their own.
You charge adoption fees, do these reflect how much you have had to spend on each dog before it is rehomed?
No! We spend much more than this on every dog that comes into our care. Every dog is neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, wormed, and treated for fleas, this alone costs much more than the adoption fee. Our other expenses include food, heating, ongoing veterinary fees, medication costs, and the wages of the staff employed to look after them. This donation fee goes only part way towards covering our expenses.
What do you do if you get a stray dog?
If a stray dog is brought to us, we scan it to see if it’s microchipped. If it is, we contact the owner and ask them to come and collect the dog. If the details on the chip are wrong, or the dog is not chipped then we are legally required to inform the dog warden most local to where the dog was found. They will then collect the dog and keep it for 7 days. If the owner has not been found or come forward in that time, then we are able to take the dog back into our care and rehome it. Very occasionally we may keep the stray at the rescue, but we are then obliged to keep the dog for 28 day before we can rehome it therefore potentially extending its stay and the costs in kennels. We keep records of where the dog was found and if it is returned a record of the owner
How can you help me adopt the right dog for me?
We will ask you to complete a dog adoption application form so we can find out about your current situation – we need to find out about you, your home, family members, working hours, other pets, and history with dogs, . Once we have this information, we will be able to tell you if we have any dogs available that would suit your situation. We also have to consider the dogs needs and place them in the right home at all times. There will be times when unfortunately there isn’t a suitable dog available. We would then keep your details on file and encourage you to keep in touch and look out for new admittances on our website.
I live a long way from your rescue, will you still rehome to me?
Yes, we re-home dogs all over the country. The right home for the dog is the most important thing. However, you need to remember that our standard procedures would still apply. You would need to come and visit the dog, along with the members of your family living with you and any other dogs you have. you could be required to make more journeys in order to get to know the dog properly. The number of visits would depend on the individual dog’s needs. This would be discussed with you at length. We would then arrange a home check this could be a visit or a virtual home check via video call. Assuming everything is ok, you would then come back to the rescue to do the final adoption and collect your dog.
Can I visit your rescue to look around?
You are welcome to visit and speak to a kennel member of staff about the dogs we have available, and you can complete an adoption application form on-site if you prefer this to online. Kennel staff will be happy to speak to you about our dogs, please be aware you may need to wait to speak with them. However, you will not be able to view the dogs without an appointment.
I work full time, can I still adopt a dog?
This will be dependent on the individual dog’s needs. Most dogs do not cope with being left for 8-9 hours a day. They will become bored, lonely, and frustrated, and will need to go to the toilet during that time. Leaving them alone for so long can lead to behavioural problems too. However depending on the circumstances and the individual dogs it may be possible to adopt with arrangements in place such as Doggy Day Care, a dog walker, or asking a neighbour, friend, or family member to visit the dog during your working hours. If you work locally maybe you can go home for lunch. Please talk to us – all dogs and situations are different!
Can you offer me advice on introducing my new dog to my existing dog?
Yes. If you came to us looking to adopt, we would find out about your dogs personality first, and would only suggest dogs that we feel would suit your dog. We would ask you to bring your dog to the rescue to meet our dog, and wouldn’t go ahead with the adoption until we were happy that both dogs were comfortable with each other. Depending on your dog’s personality we would suggest meeting on or off site. These introductions will help when it comes to taking your dog’s home. When you do take your new dog home, we recommend that you let both dogs meet outside, or take them for a short walk and then take them into the house together.
If I adopt a dog with a long-term medical condition can you help me with the vets bills?
In some cases, we will be able to help you with future medical costs. If a dog has a long-term condition and we feel that the cost of treating this condition is preventing the dog from getting the right home, then we will help. Our vet will complete a medical form that will outline exactly which expenses we are able to cover and the level of contribution expected from the adopter. Please remember that we survive solely on donations, so for us to commit to ongoing medical expenses is quite a responsibility.
What happens if I have problems with the dog I adopt, can I return them?
We are very thorough when we re-home our dogs and do everything we can to make sure we have found the right match, so that the dog doesn’t need to be returned to us. We are always available to offer advice and behavioural support as a way of trying to resolve any problems. Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, a dog can no longer be cared for and will need to be returned. We will do our best to take the dog as quickly as possible, but would ask for your understanding and patience, as we will have to find a space for that dog and this can take time.
Why do some dogs stay with you for such a long time?
We often take in dogs that other rescues wouldn’t; ones that have behavioural issues, have bitten, and do not like other dogs, dogs that will be more problematic to rehome. We don’t believe that you can give a dog a fixed period of time to find a home, we have a non-destruction policy, and would only put a dog to sleep if its quality of life were severely impaired or if it presented a genuine danger to the public or to our staff. . We firmly believe that there is a home out there for every dog; it might just take time to find it. While they are waiting for their forever homes each of our dogs leads the best life possible in a kennel environment.
Why should I insure my dog?
Having Pet Insurance for your dog is the easiest and best way of knowing that you will be able to cover veterinary costs if your dog is ever involved in an accident, or becomes ill. These costs can be extremely high; without insurance some owners find themselves unable to pay and their dog may suffer or may even have to be put to sleep. When adopted, our dogs leave with 4 weeks free insurance cover. You will be contacted after that to see if you want to continue with the policy. Please think seriously about this and continue with this cover or an alternative pet insurance policy. If you decide against insurance it may be worth considering putting money aside every month in a separate account for your dog to cover any future vet bills.
Is there anything I need to do or bring on the final adoption day?
You only need to bring a lead and your adoption fee on the day, but there are many things you need to think about before you get to the rescue. Please make sure you already have everything you need for your dog – the correct food, bed, toys, bowls etc. Also plan your journey home from the rescue and the following few days, so they remain as calm and relaxed as possible. This will help your dog settle more quickly.
Can you board my dog while I am on holiday?
Unfortunately, we do not have the facilities to board dogs temporarily. Our kennel space is limited and we are constantly full. We also always have a list of dogs waiting to come in. There are many commercial boarding kennels in our area, and we can advise on personal dog sitters.
Small Animals FAQ's
How do animals get to be in your care?
Animals come into our care for a variety of reasons. The most common amongst them being that they are stray, unwanted, the children have got bored of the animal, the family is moving house, or some other change of circumstances. Sometimes they are just abandoned in boxes.
What types of animals do you admit?
We admit rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, chinchillas and small aviary birds.
How many small animals do you have on site?
Generally we have between 70 – 100 small animals at any one time.
What is the most common animal brought to you and why?
The most common animals brought to us are rabbits. Rabbits are often brought in because they have escaped from their homes and then been found straying by a member of the public. They are quite often brought to us because the children have become bored, or gone off to college or university and the adults do not want to continue with their care. Rabbits do need a lot of care, but they can also be very independent and quite often don’t like being handled. This is one reason that children become bored of them.
Once you have decided to take an animal in, what happens next?
Once an animal has been admitted it is then assessed by staff. It will be health checked by our vets at the next vet visit, and then vaccinated, neutered and microchipped where applicable. Once this process is complete and the animal is fit and healthy they will be put up for rehoming via our website.
Do you neuter, vaccinate and microchip all of your small animals?
Yes every animal that it is safe to neuter, vaccinate and microchip has the procedure carried out before adoption. We generally neuter (castrate or spay), both male and female rabbits and ferrets, male guinea pigs and male chinchillas. Rabbits and ferrets are also vaccinated and microchipped.
I have children under the age of 5 years. Can I still adopt a small animal from you?
Yes, as long as the children are supervised at all times when with the animal. Parents with children should only take on an animal if they want it too. If the child should lose interest then the adult should be the one to continue to care for the animal – after all; animals are not toys to be discarded and it’s the ‘adults’ not the children that officially adopted the animal in the first place!!
What happens if I have a problem with the animal I adopted, can I return it?
We will always offer advice to prevent the animal from having to be returned to us, and hope that we can help you keep the animal in your care. However if that is not possible then we will always take the animal back to ensure its safety.
I work full time, can I still adopt a small animal?
Yes. Although small animals do need lots of care they are also very independent. They are often kept in pairs or groups so they will have company even when you are out.
Is it unfair to let a rabbit live alone?
Yes, most rabbits like the company of another rabbit as they are not naturally solitary animals. For this reason, we only rehome rabbits in bonded pairs/groups or after bonding them with your existing rabbit. Rabbits can be difficult to mix so we will bond the rabbits here on site.
Why isn’t a standard rabbit hutch suitable for a rabbit?
A hutch is not enough. Rabbits need space to exercise as they are very active animals. Rabbits have long legs so they can run, jump, and play. When rabbits are locked up in a hutch for long periods of time they can become bored, frustrated, stressed, grumpy, overweight and unhealthy. We ask that you have a hutch or shed with a large fully secure run attached to it, so that the rabbits have permanent access to a proper exercise area.
Can rabbits live with guinea pigs?
Some people have rabbits and guinea pigs living together, but we do not recommend it. Some rabbits can be quite aggressive towards guinea pigs and they can also carry a bacteria that may make guinea pigs quite poorly. Remember – rabbits are a completely different species that would never naturally mix with guinea pigs. We feel that they should only be rehomed with their own kind.
Can rabbits live indoors only?
Yes. Rabbits adapt quite well to living inside, and many people have house rabbits. If you choose to have house rabbits it is important that you block off all wires to prevent the rabbits from chewing them. You also need to be prepared that some rabbits will chew anything that they can get hold of! Rabbits are clean and are easy to litter train, but there will be a few accidents until they have completely settled into their new environment. Most rabbits find walking on slippery surfaces difficult and can injure their backs if they slip, so carpets or rugs will help them to get around if you have laminate or lino flooring. To feed house rabbits you can get good quality hay, dried grasses and herbal treats to replace grass, or you can grow trays of grass or turf for the rabbits to eat and dig in.
Are small animals expensive to keep?
The most expensive lay out is for caging. Cages can be quite expensive, especially the bigger they get. Obviously it is better to get the biggest cage you can find for your animal, they can therefore have more space to exercise, and a better quality of life in general. Once the caging has been bought you then you’ll need to buy bowls, water bottles, toys, bedding and feed stuff. Small animals do need cleaning out frequently so this is an ongoing expense.
Do they require vet care and can this be costly?
All small animals will require vet care at some time in their lives and yes vet care can be expensive. Most small animals don’t need vaccinations, but rabbits do require annual vaccinations against Myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease. When they receive this vaccination, the vet will give them a full health check and check their weight, teeth, eyes, ears claws, coat etc. All our rabbits go out with 4 weeks free pet insurance when they are adopted and we recommend that you purchase ongoing pet insurance to help with any unexpected vet bills in the future.
How do horses and ponies end up in your care?
Some of our horses and ponies have come to us as a result of their owners losing the land they were renting or having to sell their properties. Sometimes owners are not financially able to continue caring for their animals, with the costs of caring for equines increasing they have to give them up. We occasionally take in retired riding horses too. Sadly when a horse cannot be ridden any more it is often simply replaced with a younger one.
How many horse and ponies do you have on site?
The number of horses and ponies we have on site at any one time can vary, but we usually allow at least an acre per horse so it’s usually around 18.
Where are the horse and ponies housed?
We have several fields covering 19 acres in total. We have field shelters for those who wish to use them and stables for those horses that need to come in at night. The horses live in groups – herds, across the land available.
What does it mean when you say you have ‘loaned out’ horses?
We send them out ‘on loan’ so that legally they remain Freshfields property and if for any reason in the future they cannot stay in the place or with the people they have been ‘loaned’ to, they will come back to us. This way we can be sure they will remain safe and not be sold on or slaughtered.
Why are some of your horses and ponies available for rehoming but others stay with you permanently?
The decision to ‘loan out’ or not always depends on the condition and health of the horse or pony.
Do you neuter and microchip any of your horses and ponies?
We castrate every stallion and all horses and ponies have to be passported and microchipped by law. The passport is a legal requirement and without it they could not be transported around the country.
What do you do if you hear about an injured horse or pony?
There are times when members of the public contact us about a horse or pony they have seen because they are concerned about its welfare. We try to obtain as much information as possible and assess the situation. We may go and take a look for ourselves, or if the distance is not practical then we may have to refer them to the relevant authorities.
Can I visit the stables to look around?
Of course! All we ask is that you phone us first so we can arrange a convenient time, and make sure there is a member of staff available to show you around.
What are the costs involved in looking after a horse or pony?
It is difficult to say exactly how much it costs to look after a horse or pony in just one year, let alone in its lifetime. However we can say you need to be financially sound. All horses need food, bedding shelter, and space to exercise. They need indoor and outdoor rugs, worming, and de lousing. They will need vaccinating and regular treatment from, dentists, farriers and vets. As with all animals, as they get older they will need supplements and extra medical care. In the summer costs can be lower, if they have grazing grass to eat and no bedding is needed. It is important to remember that horses and ponies can live into their 20’s and could live for up to 30 plus years!
Once you’ve decided to take a horse in, what happens next
Firstly, we must arrange the transport of the them to us, once admitted, horses and ponies are kept isolated from our own, to make sure that there’s no risk of infectious diseases being transferred. Once checked over by a vet, passported, microchipped and vaccinated they will be introduced to our other equines. We have recently introduced a new worming program for our equines, where a sample of their poo is sent away to a laboratory to be analysed for worms which we then we treat accordingly, giving individual care for every horse or pony at the centre means they don’t become immune to the worming products.
Horses and ponies are continuously assessed throughout their settling in period so we can then decide which herd they are most suited to, and what type of home is needed. This will depend upon their sex, personality, and age. Any colts will be gelded (castrated)) as soon as possible. Most of the new admittances need the attention of a farrier and/or dentist so would be seen on their next site visit. If they were in need of help sooner we would arrange this immediately. If suitable for rehoming, they are added to our website and advertised on our social media to look for a loan home.
Do some animals stay with you for a long time?
Our aim is to find suitable loan homes for all. However, if it is in their best interests some of the elderly horses and ponies with health issues stay with us for life.
How can volunteers help these animals?
Volunteers are always welcome! You can help with grooming, mucking out and spend time keeping our more docile horse’s company.
Do all of your horses and ponies live in groups?
Yes, they do. They should always live in groups, as they are herd animals. We find that sometimes close bonds are formed between certain animals within the same group.
How do you look after the horses and ponies in winter?
In the winter months our horses and ponies go out to the fields in the morning after their breakfast. They are brought in and stabled overnight, and always wear rugs. Some of the hardier native horses and ponies can stay out during the night, but they do have field shelters they can use should the weather become severe. However even these will be stabled in very severe weather.
Do you charge an adoption fee? How much is this and what does it cover?
Our one off ‘on loan’ fee differs in every case – it will depend upon the animals age and health but it is around £250. This fee helps pay towards the next horse’s passport, microchip, vet and worming treatments, dentist and farrier costs.
How do the animals come into your care?
The farm animals we take in come from a range of different backgrounds. The majority of the smaller animals such as ducks and chickens are unwanted pets. It is becoming more common for us to take pigs and sheep in as unwanted pets too. The larger animals can come from farm situations; it may be that someone has rescued them at the end of their farming life, or they have been raised by someone for meat but they then found they couldn’t go through with it.
What animals do you have?
We are currently home to pigs, sheep, hens, cockerels, ducks and geese. We do however try to help any animal in need.
Are any of the farm animals for rehoming or do they stay with you permanently?
In theory all of our farm animals are available for rehoming. However the reality for many of the larger animals is they stay with us for some time or the remainder of their natural life, as the right homes rarely come up for them.
Do you neuter, vaccinate, and microchip any of these animals?
Where possible and safe to do so these animals are all neutered. All male sheep and pigs are neutered, this of course means we can mix these animals without fear of them breeding. They are vaccinated/medicated as required but none are microchipped. By law sheep and pigs have to be ear tagged.
Is there an adoption fee?
We do ask for a donation whenever a farm animal leaves us; this will enable us to continue the work we do and rescue more animals. We don’t have a set adoption fee as the other units at the rescue. It is very important to us that these animals go to good loving homes where they will be well cared for. We will discuss with the adopter an appropriate donation at each adoption.
Can I visit the farm to look around?
The farm is closed to the public with appointments arranged for anyone who may wish to adopt an animal.
What are the costs involved in looking after these animals?
The cost of looking after these animals can get particularly expensive. We are lucky to have vegetables donated to us from a local supermarket, without this our feed costs would be even higher. Farm animals require the same level of care as domestic pets therefore vet bills and medication can prove a huge expense also.
How long do these animals live? Pigs generally live to around 16 years, but this depends on their breed. Sheep live to 10 to 12 years; chickens and other small birds can have a life expectancy of 6 years. Geese however have been known to live a good 20 years plus!
Once you’ve decided to take an animal in, what happens next?
We can only make the decision to bring an animal in when space permits. The animals we admit are generally brought into us, and then a disclaimer form is completed. This means the animal has been legally signed over to us. In the case of larger animals such as the pigs and sheep, we may go and collect them ourselves. This is because there is additional paperwork to be completed and movement licenses need to be applied for by law. Each animal will spend a period of time in isolation before being introduced to the rest of the farm.
Do some animals stay with you for a long time?
Our animals will stay with us as long as they need to. When the right home comes along they will be adopted, but finding the right home can often take time. Occasionally an animal will need treatment before it is ready to be rehomed. There are some cases when animals never leave us, and spend the entirety of their natural life with us.
How can volunteers help these animals?
The main way people can help our farm animals is by sponsoring them. A number of our animals are cared for in this way. We do take on volunteers for the farm, but this needs to be people who can commit to regular hours and days. It is hard, messy work and isn’t for everyone!
Do these animals live in groups?
The majority of our farm animals live with each other, and mix with the other farm animals. They can be rather easy going and mix well with any new outsiders that may be introduced. This isn’t so for our pigs though who would not get on as a large group, they are therefore kept in separate pairs with some pigs living as individuals, although these do have many ‘non pig’ farmyard friends. We often have to keep cockerels separate to avoid them fighting.
How do these animals needs change in winter?
The main difference for the farm animals in winter is that extra feeds may have to be given. This is because their grazing will have all but disappeared over the winter. Besides that there is a lot more cleaning to be done by the staff to ensure the ground is suitable for them to live on; if the sheep and pigs in particular are standing in too much damp and mud this can cause issues with their hooves. Extra bedding will be provided when necessary. The animals keep their sleeping areas pretty clean – especially the pigs!
What do these animals eat; can they eat the same things?
Our chickens and ducks generally eat the same things. They have open access to mixed corn and chicken mash. In addition to this they will also get a mix of vegetables and bread, depending on what we have in stock at the time. Our pigs are fed a bowl of oats, bran, and pig nuts which is mixed into a porridge-like mixture with water (warm in the winter) each morning. They are also given vegetables a little later on in the day. In general our sheep will just graze the grass or eat hay, but they are also given vegetables in the morning, just a mixture of whatever we happen to have in stock.
What kinds of illnesses and medical conditions do you have to deal with?
The animals can be affected by the same types of health issues that would affect any other domestic pet. Pigs and sheep can get foot rot if they are roaming around in wet mud for long periods of time, but this is easily avoided by periodically checking, cleaning and trimming their feet. All manner of worms can become an issue if left unchecked, but all of our farm animals are periodically wormed and treated for any kinds of parasite that may be present in the farm environment. The ducks and chickens general squabbling can be the cause of all manner of cuts and small abscesses, so sometimes it may be necessary to treat with antibiotics. These squabbles can also lead to sore or swollen eyes.
Do you take in wildlife from the general public?
Yes. We take in a variety of wildlife, mainly birds and small mammals.
What types of wildlife do you admit?
We admit wildlife such as small garden birds (black birds, robins, starlings, etc.) doves, crows, magpies, pigeons, hedgehogs, gulls, waterfowl and small mammals.
Why are they brought in to you?
There are various reasons. Birds are usually brought in with injured wings or legs due to the fact they have flown into windows, or been hit by cars, or attacked by cats or sparrow hawks. They have sometimes been stuck down chimneys, and there are also orphaned birds. Hedgehogs are brought to us as they have been found out during the day, or are too small to hibernate. Some have fallen into ponds, have had their nests disturbed, been attacked by dogs, cut with strimmers, or caught in netting.
How many animals do you have in your unit?
The wildlife unit has between 150 – 250 animals at any one time. Winter is less busy as the birds aren’t coming in but we still have up to 100 hogs onsite until spring. During the spring and summer months it is very busy with lots of baby birds and hedgehogs.
Can we look around the wildlife unit?
Sorry but we do not allow the public to look around this unit. They are wild animals after all; we have to keep their surroundings as quiet as possible and keep human contact to a minimum. This will prevent unnecessary stress, and imprinting which is when the animal that is being looked after forms a bond of trust with the person caring for it.
I’ve found a hedgehog out during the day, what should I do?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal so they should not be out during the day. If you find one out in the daytime, you should put it in a box with a towel and phone a rescue centre for advice. as soon as possible. The longer they are out, the less chance they have for survival. It is usually due to internal parasites, lungworm, roundworm & fluke. All of which are fatal without correct treatment. Secure the hedgehog before it wanders off because in most cases there is a reason for it being out during the day; usually because it’s poorly.
What do you do with birds when you admit them?
Firstly we take details from the person who found it, the reason the animal has been brought in and where it was found. Then we check the bird for any obvious injuries which may need immediate veterinary treatment. If we can’t see anything obvious we will observe the bird and check it’s progress. Once the bird has had any necessary treatment and/or is eating and feeding well, then it will go into a pre release aviary to check it is flying OK. It can then be released.
Can we adopt a hedgehog from you?
Most of our hedgehogs go back to the place they were found. Occasionally we will relocate hogs that can’t go back for safety reasons, but we tend to put them in hog friendly places. Sometimes we do get a hog that needs to go to a secure garden (if they are disabled in some way it means that they will not cope alone in the wild), but the garden does have to be a fully secure, walled, hog friendly garden.
How many animals and birds do you admit in a year?
We are only a small unit but we are busy! We admit approximately 500 animals and birds a year. We can admit as many as 40 animals a week, but this is during our busy time of year – the spring and summer.
Why is it busier in the spring and summer?
It is very busy in the spring and summer because we get lots of baby birds and animals. Some baby birds need feeding every 20 minutes from dawn until dusk, and their pens need cleaning many times. We also get lots of ducklings in; they are very cute but are very messy too, so they need cleaning out multiple times a day. Baby hedgehogs (hoglets) need feeding every 2 hours, even through the night when they are very young.
What do you do when an animal is brought in to you?
Firstly we get the details from the finder, where the animal was found, how it was found. We need this information for our records, as every animal has its own record card with a record card number. We then check the animal for any injuries that may need veterinary treatment. If nothing obvious is found then the animal is settled into the appropriate caging and monitored. Some animals may need vet treatment for injury or illness, some just need rest and recuperation. Once the animal has recovered and is feeding well it is then placed in a pre release pen and its progress monitored before it is released.
Are animals and birds with you for a long time?
This all depends on what is wrong with them. The shorter the time they spend with us the better as it is very stressful for a wild animal to be in captivity. We tend to have hedgehogs for the longest time; when they come in as babies in late autumn, we keep them over the winter (‘overwinter’ them), and then release them in the spring.
Do you release all your wildlife?
Yes, we do release all wildlife once recovered. Most wildlife goes back to where it was found, but occasionally we have to relocate the animals to a different place if the area of origin is not safe.
If I bring injured wildlife to you, will it be put to sleep?
When any animal or bird is brought in to us we always do our best to help it. Unfortunately the fact that the wild animal or bird has allowed you to pick it up and bring it to us is a clear sign that it is very poorly – you should not be able to handle a healthy wild animal. In some case by the time the animal is found and is brought to us, it is too late to be saved – no matter what help we can offer it. We do always give every animal a chance, but if the animal is suffering we do sometimes have to make the sad decision to end it’s suffering.
What should I do if I find an injured bird?
If you find an injured bird, pick it up and put it in a secure box, and then phone a rescue for advice.
What do I do if I find a young bird in the garden?
Many birds fledge but can’t actually fly properly for a few weeks. If the bird is alert and active, and parent birds are around then leave it alone (parents will not be around if you are near the fledgling so watch from a distance). If the bird is very quiet, not alert and easy to pick up, that’s when you need to help it. Put it in a box and call a rescue for advice.
What is the correct food for hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs can be fed cat or dog food (not fish varities) , hedgehog biscuits, hedgehog muesli and cat biscuits. Hedgehogs should never be fed on bread or milk as this is harmful to their digestive system, and can make them very ill.
What is the correct food to feed to ducks in the park?
Most people feed ducks bread and although they do like it, it isn’t very good for them. Ducks should be fed on corn and or duck pellets. If they do get bread it is best to give them wholemeal bread as this has more nutrients in it than white bread.
What do you feed the birds that come in to you?
That depends on the type of bird it is. Some birds are seed eaters, some eat meat, some eat fish and some eat insects. We always have a variety of foods in stock so we are prepared for any type of bird that’s admitted. If you do find a bird but cannot take it to a rescue for a day or so, find out what type of bird it is so you can make sure you feed it the correct food.