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Sanctuary in animal care plea

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By Ben Murray
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Sanctuary in animal care plea
BUSY . . . Siobhan Webster with some of the Mossburn residents

THINK carefully before you take on a new or an additional pet.

That’s the message from the exhausted and busy team at the Mossburn Animal Centre this Christmas, who are full to bursting with four legged guests.

They have revealed they are facing struggles due to rising costs in energy and feed and high demand for their services.

The Hightae sanctuary is currently caring for over 100 animals, including horses and ponies, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, emus, a llama, a tortoise, poultry, rabbits and guinea pigs.

Yard manager Siobhan Webster this week said: “Since the first lockdown there has been a steady increase in the amount of calls asking us to take in animals and we are definitely getting more than ever.

“The majority of the time this is due to the owners struggling to afford to care for their pets.

“We are currently at capacity for most species here and so unfortunately we most often have to say no, multiple times a week.

“We feel strongly that we cannot push the limits of our capacity in terms of space, finances and the manpower to care for the animals already here.”

Cost increases in feed and bedding materials are taking a toll and Siobhan explained: “Hay has gone up to £5 per bale this winter and we are currently using eight bales per day as well as haylage and then straw for bedding. All bags of hard feed have increased by £2-£5 per bag and we use around 75 bags every six weeks.

“The increase in animals here, many of which are elderly or have complex medical needs, means our monthly vet bills are higher than ever too.”

As such, she appealed to anyone considering getting a pet to think carefully about it, adding: “We have seen the biggest increases in requests for help for rabbits and equines.

“We currently have 17 horses and ponies here which is the most we have ever had and has necessitated an extra fence and shelter building to ensure we can accommodate them all appropriately, which has been costly.

“Two recent rabbit arrivals were both found abandoned – one in Dumfries and one in Carlisle – both in need of veterinary treatment, neutering and vaccinating.”

“We fully appreciate that finding yourself unable to afford to care for your pet is frustrating and upsetting.

“But abandoning an animal just shifts the responsibility onto already exhausted and struggling sanctuary staff and volunteers.

“We all do our best but we cannot help everybody and at the end of the day people must take responsibility for their animals and this begins before you even get a pet.”

She added: “Do your research, think very carefully about whether you will be able to provide the correct care the animal needs for the duration of its life before you get it.”

Mossburn Animal Centre is open to visitors every day from 10 am – 3 pm and is free to visit. Volunteers and donations always welcome.

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