A Preston animal charity could face closure due to a black hole in its finances.
The Preston & District RSPCA animal centre in Ribbleton has announced it will have to lay off eight staff, leaving it just four to carry on caring for the city’s unwanted animals.
The centre currently costs around £400,000-a-year to run and can hold up to 60 dogs, 25 cats and other animals when running at full capacity.
Trustee John Wareing said the centre was losing around £15,000 a month.
He said: “We have had to stop taking new animals in. Our costs are just so high and the donations and money coming in is not enough.
“We are currently consulting with staff about the redundancies. We are not clear about how long the centre can be sustained at this rate.”
Mr Wareing joined as a trustee last year, after volunteering at the animal centre on Longridge Road.
The charity found itself in a similar situation last year when it ran into financial difficulties.
“We struggle because of the image of the RSPCA to people,” he said, “people think we’re part of the national charity so we must have loads of money but we receive very little funding from the national RSPCA.
“There is an AGM of members in May and we’ll see what comes out of that. For the time being we need to raise as much as we can to keep the centre open.
“The sad fact is if we don’t have the money we can’t take in as many dogs and then more of them will go to the Pound. When that happens after seven days they are often put down.”
The centre also runs a clinic on Lancaster Road on Tuesday and Thursday evening, but Mr Wareing said this would also have to be reviewed.
The decision to cut staff was announced last week via statement on the centre’s Facebook page, which has over 1,100 fans.
A Facebook statement by centre staff said: “We are all devastated and those of us who leave will miss the work we do so very much.
“More upsetting will be the fact the centre will not be able to rescue, care for and rehome anywhere near the number of animals we have done over the last few years.
“The centre relies so heavily on the generosity of the general public and legacies so please continue to support the centre. We have many dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets looking for their forever homes so please come to the centre if you can offer a loving home.”
The news has been met with outcry by supporters of the centre who have called on a fundraising effort to save it.
Katrina Bower, who donates to the centre, has called on supporters of the centre to do more.
She became involved with the Preston RSPCA after a neighbour found two kittens dumped on their doorstep, and now Miss Bower and her fiance have taken them into their Fulwood home.
She said: “We took them to the RSPCA clinic and asked if they could give them a quick health check and estimate of age.
“They were very kind to help us out at such short notice and they gave both kittens a clean bill of health.
“They were estimated to be about 10 weeks old so they gave us all the worming advice and told us to make sure they were neutered when they were ready.”
Miss Bower’s two cats, named Cinders and Macaroni, are now very much part of their lives.
“They put my mind at rest and I couldn’t have asked for any more from them (the RSPCA)”, she said.
“Without the availability of this clinic, I wouldn’t have known what to do with them. They are now 9 months old and have settled into our lives perfectly.”
Miss Bower, 29, a call centre leader, said after her experience with the centre she decided to donate to the Safe Haven scheme and sponsor a kennel every month.
However, other fans of the centre have hit out at the way it is managed and asked how the centre descended into a scenario where it is losing so much money every month.
Jed McCormick, writing on Facebook after the news was announced, said he didn’t see a visible fundraising presence in the area.
He said: “I go in my local shop in Chorley and there are a choice of charity boxes to drop your change into. One of them is Bleak Holt Animal Rescue Centre near Ramsbottom. That is some way from Chorley, certainly further away than Preston.
“I’ve never seen a Preston RSPCA box anywhere in the area. I go in Morrison in Blackburn and there’s a box to donate pet food to animals from The Dogs Trust I think it is. Preston RSPCA is a charity, and in this day and age they have to work hard, very hard at getting cash from wherever they can, but Preston RSPCA don’t seem to do much.”
An online petition has been set up calling for the national RSPCA to do more to help local branches. 86 people have signed it.
Mr Wareing urged anyone who wanted to donate to the centre to support their Safe Haven Scheme.
What do you think about the situation? Do you donate or volunteer at the centre? What do you think? Let us know your views in the comments below