Norfolk animal charity reveals battle against the recession

A Norfolk animal charity has hit back at 'unjustified criticism' which it says is hampering its work during a difficult time.

The boss at the RSPCA Norwich and mid-Norfolk branch has spoken of the charity's growing frustration at not only having to fight the recession, which has had a major impact on the local charity, but also at what he sees as unjustified allegations against it.

Branch director David Wilkinson said: 'Like many charities in Norfolk, we are struggling through the economic downturn. Not only are we receiving less funds, but we are taking in more and more animals as people are losing their jobs and finding that they cannot look after their pet anymore.

'But to make matters worse, we are working against unjustified criticism from other groups and individuals who have their own opinions on what the RSPCA should or shouldn't be doing.'

Another problem the branch faces is on the issue of euthanasia. The Paws Centre, the branch's animal centre, only euthanases animals that are seriously ill – physically or mentally.

Mr Wilkinson said: 'We don't put animals to sleep if we don't have spaces, which people seem to think.

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'We are an animal welfare charity, and that means looking after the best interests of an animal on a case by case basis.'

The charity is based in Barrack Street, Norwich, but it covers a large part of Norfolk, as far as Burnham Market and Cromer on the north Norfolk coast to Thetford, near the Suffolk border.

It takes in and rehabilitates animals from both RSPCA inspectors and the general public. The branch is a separate charity in its own right and does not control the activities of RSPCA Inspectors, which come under the remit of the RSPCA at a national level, as does prosecutions.

However, the Norwich charity finds that many members of the public and supporters of other animal welfare groups, do not realise this and believe the branch is responsible for all RSPCA operations in the local area.

'I think that people actually forget that the RSPCA is a charity,' said Sophie Howlett, the branch's operations manager. 'Although we have the RSPCA brand, we are a small and independent local charity. It is really disappointing when people choose to believe what they hear or have been told on face value, without checking the facts first. We want to people to get to know us for themselves and judge us on their own experiences of the branch.'

The branch is keen to work alongside other similar charities and already has a successful partnership with Cats Protection and they work together to encourage responsible pet ownership, for example by holding join micro-chipping and neutering events.

For more information, log on to www.rspcanorwich.org.uk, or telephone 01603 766001.

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