South Yorkshire pet rescue center ‘facing breaking point’


Journalist Errol Edwards visited Rain Rescue in Wickersley for information on the crisis.

The center has been in existence for 20 years and relies on the generosity of the public and sympathetic businesses.

The team has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, helping 430 cats and dogs in 2021.

Feature on Rain Rescue Animal Shelter. Zoe Morris and Misty. Photo Scott Merrylee

Since the start of 2022, Rain has housed 238 cats and dogs and neutered hundreds of cats with his Snip and Chip project.

But with a waiting list of over 100 cats and 42 dogs, Rain Rescue is at capacity.

The charity is also seeing a reduction of more than 35% in its donation income, as people feel the impact of the rising cost of living, but experience an increase of more than 50% in veterinary costs.

Rain Rescue sees an ominous future for these pets as it struggles to balance the books.

Rain Rescue staff and animals to help promote the Mother’s Day plaques they are giving away this year to financially help them through the pandemic. Pictured is Mcihael Heredge with Lilly. Photo: Chris Etchells

“The cats have gotten out of hand, pretty much at epidemic levels, Sheffield and Rotherham are just awful.

“So it’s just the people who don’t spay their cats and let them breed.

“The cats will breed from four months, and so will all the male cat Toms – they just fight, so what we get throughout the breeding season, we get loads of Toms brought to us with infected wounds, abscesses, dull eyes, just awful.

Feature on Rain Rescue Animal Shelter.Charlotte Collins with Mochi. Photo Scott Merrylee

“It’s a battleground out there, and when people let the young Toms out, they get attacked by bigger Toms.

“They chase them out of areas, and they get lost, so a lot of them just end up another wandering down the street.

“We’re trying to get people to get everything neutered and microchipped, at least that’s a way to bring your cat home.”

She added: “Going into Covid was awful; there are hardly any rescue centers for cats.

Rain Rescue staff and animals to help promote the Mother’s Day plaques they are giving away this year to financially help them through the pandemic. Photo: Chris Etchells

“If you look at South Yorkshire, there are so few cat rescues, and they are all overcrowded.

Recent research from the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) shows that demand for rescue dogs has declined over the past year, while the number of abandoned dogs is higher in 2022 than in 2021 and 2020 .

Halita Obineche, Executive Director of ADCH, said: “There has been a huge increase in the number of people buying locked out pets and we are dealing with the fallout.

“Inexperienced owners unable to handle pets with behavioral issues caused by poor training and lack of socialization; workers returning to the office; and now the rising cost of living, all combined to create a national animal welfare crisis.

“Our members emerged from lockdown struggling with a lack of funds and a shortage of experienced staff. They are overstretched – both in terms of space and emotional toll in the face of an epidemic of abandoned dogs.

Feature on Rain Rescue Animal Shelter.Misty. Photo Scott Merrylee

Jacquie added: “Now people are going back to work, they have this noisy puppy they can’t do anything with.

“So we get the eight months, for the two-year-old dogs that haven’t had any training.

“They have behavioral issues. You can only face so many behavioral issues, we need to work with them to see if we can fix them.

“They say, ‘We can’t have them anymore because they’re destroying the house.’

“The most important thing we try to get people to understand is before you get a dog, think about your life strategy.

“Stop and think about the next 15 years, what’s going to happen in the next 15 years, you’re going to have a baby?

“Don’t give your dog away because you’re going to have a baby.

“Have your dog trained to be safe around your baby and your cat.”

Another aspect of the current crisis is the high cost of veterinary fees and the lack of post Brexit and Covid vets.

Jacquie said many vets are leaving the profession.

she added: “A lot of European vets have left so there is a massive shortage across the country so we are struggling as well.

“Vets need to tell the public how much it is – the bill – for them to be abused.

“People buy a puppy, and they’ve paid £1,500 for it, and they expect it to be perfect, well, it’s a living being, and it can go wrong.

“He may have been brought up in horrible conditions, so they come to the vet and get a £500, £1,000, £1,500 bill, and the vet is mistreated because of the cost, and they don’t consider they need insurance.

“We tell everyone to make sure, that way at least when the bill comes in, you’ll be covered.”

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