New Norwich RSPCA shop packs real punch

Its volunteers may be more used to dealing with boxers of the canine variety, but that didn't stop the RSPCA inviting former world champion Jon Thaxton to open its new shop in Norwich.

The Magdalen Street shop is the charity's sixth in Norwich and mid-Norfolk – and up to three more are planned before the end of the year.

Customers queued outside ahead of the shop's opening yesterday morning, before being welcomed by Mr Thaxton and foster puppies Bert, Ernie and Herry from the RSPCA's Barrack Street rehoming centre.

Mr Thaxton, who won the WBF world lightweight title in 2005, adopted a cat from the RSPCA two years ago.

'It's so important for these shops to do well, as it all goes towards helping the animals,' he said.

'A lot of people will have got animals for Christmas without realising they are a 24/7 commitment, and the RSPCA helps to rehome those animals with good owners.'

Despite feeling the economic pinch, charity shops are still the biggest source of income for the RSPCA, according to branch operations director Sophie Howlett.

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Miss Howlett said: 'In the last few months donations and customer spending have gone down, but the shops still bring in the majority of the money for us.

'They are still viable. It costs �300 to rehome a cat and �500 for a dog, so the funds raised by the shops really are essential.'

The shop stocks pet accessories, books, clothing, children's toys and homeware, and is appealing for volunteers.

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