The charity is concerned that Covid-19 is fuelling the record numbers, as cash-strapped families are less able to take in family pets or are unwilling to travel to collect the animals. A significant number are elderly pets with health problems, placing a massive financial strain on the charity at a time when it has lost tens of thousands of pounds in income due to Covid-19.
Woodside founder Carole Bowles MBE said: “With figures rising, it is clear that more animals are needing our help for these reasons.”
“The restrictions that have had to be put in place have so many more effects that we can think of.”
Between 2018 and 2019, the number of cats being taken in by Woodside after their owners died rose by a third to 30. But the charity has already exceeded this figure in 2020. Woodside is one of the few charities to offer a forever home to elderly animals or those with long-term medical conditions, who are often unable to be rehomed. They will live in one of the charity’s dedicated old animal units, where they are given more time, cuddles and creature comforts.
But this comes at a cost, which continues to increase while the charity has seen its income plummet to desperate levels.
The Sanctuary has lost more than £25,000 from cancelled fundraising events it had organised directly, and its charity shop income has crashed to a fifth of its pre-Covid levels in the last six months, costing the charity around £40,000 a month. Woodside has now made a desperate appeal to help it through these difficult times, by encouraging people to sign up to its sponsorship scheme. Members, who contribute £20 a year, have the reassurance of knowing that their pets will be cared for by the charity should anything happen to them. They can receive a card from Woodside, to place in their home, detailing what should happen to their pet if they pass away.
The charity is also urging people to think about Woodside when making a Will.
Carole said: “Sadly many animals arrive after being found with their owner who has passed away. The trauma these animals go through is awful and many need time to grieve and adjust, as we humans do when we have lost a loved one.
“Here at Woodside we are able to provide these animals with the time, love and care they require and nurture them through the difficult time. Some are able to go on and be adopted but for many this is not always possible.
“In these cases the staff try to accommodate them in one of their special cat care units, which provide a homely environment where they can enjoy the freedom of the sanctuary during the day. This kind of care is quite unique and not something that many sanctuaries can offer.
“But this care comes at a cost. The majority of these cats are on lifelong medication, special diets or require frequent vet checks. Heating costs are high in the winter. But without this care and the facility, these cats would have no one and Woodside simply will not give up on them.”