Volunteering with Bristol Dogs & Cats Home
On 22nd July, Katie and I spent a day volunteering at the Bristol Dogs & Cats Home.
The Home is partnered with the RSPCA Bristol Clinic, the biggest branch veterinary clinic in the country, and together they make up the RSPCA Bristol & District Branch. Each year the clinic treats thousands of stray animals, wildlife casualties and animals whose owners are struggling to afford veterinary fees. The Home provides a rehoming service for local stray animals, both those that have been treated at the clinic and those that don’t need special veterinary care. It’s not just cats and dogs they home – past patients at the centre have included snakes, ferrets and giant African land snails!
The Bristol Dogs and Cats Home was opened in 1886 and moved to its present location in St Philips in 1901 when it was clear that larger facilities were required. It provides shelter and care to around 2,000 animals a year until they are rehomed. Our volunteering consisted of walking some of the dogs in the Home, which takes up a lot of volunteer and staff time as all the dogs have to be walked separately.
On arrival we had a safety briefing and cup of tea with Harriet from the Branch office, who explained a bit about the work the Dogs & Cats Home does and the animals they receive into their care. We were then taken to the area where the animals live and given our first dogs to walk. The route the animals are taken on goes along the towpath by the river Avon and to the park at the end, before returning the same way. We did the walk four times, and on the last walk of the day we were given a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Shadow to walk together as he was thought to be too strong for one of us on our own. Thinking ‘how strong can he be?’ we set off, and soon found out the answer – very! It was more a case of Shadow taking us for a walk as he dragged us along the towpath, though he calmed down after he had had a good walk and found a huge stick to carry back to the centre.
Back in the office we were told about a new charity shop in Bedminster which the Branch have just opened and are now accepting donations for, so we both took some bags to fill with unwanted goods to take to the shop. We both enjoyed our day at the Dogs & Cats Home and have asked them to let us know if there are any upcoming events they would like help with.