Rabbit with wonky ears hopes to find a new home this Christmas

A lop-eared rabbit who looks like a unicorn, due to wonky ear that stands upright on his head, is looking for a home.

Staff at RSPCA Milton Keynes & North Bucks branch are hoping that Wonky’s unusual look will bag him a new owner in time for Christmas.

Carol Spindler, from the branch said: “Wonky came into our care because his previous owners couldn’t keep him any longer. He’s a truly adorable boy, he’s very affectionate and friendly.

“He has such an unusual look and it’s amazing how his ear flips up and stands upright on his head – just like a unicorn horn.”

Wonky is a large bunny (over 3kg) and is four-years old. He loves attention and enjoys sitting beside you for strokes. He doesn’t particularly like being picked up.

Wonky would love a large, secure home outside or indoors and would benefit from a female bunny to keep him company.

Carol added: “The loveable boy really deserves a home where he’ll get lots of attention and treats. He would suit a family with older children and would make a wonderful addition to the home.”

To find out more about Wonky you can visit his online profile or contact the branch on smallmammals@mkrspca.org.uk or 01908 611179.

The Kennel Club launches new ‘voice for dogs’ manifesto ahead of general election

Ahead of the General Election on 12 December, the new Kennel Club manifesto, ‘A Voice for Dogs’, calls upon the incoming government to reshape the laws surrounding dog welfare.

The wide-ranging nine-point plan highlights the key issues facing dogs and their owners and details the legislative changes and measures which need to be taken to deliver far greater protection for dogs across the UK.

The manifesto refers to the commitments made by the previous government, following ongoing campaigning by the Kennel Club against the barbaric use of electric shock collars.

After widespread cross-party support and a public consultation, the previous government announced its intention to ban these devices. However, as a result of a High Court legal challenge which was recently dismissed, this legislation was unable to be introduced before the early dissolution of parliament.

With the next government equipped to introduce the ban, the Kennel Club want to see this implemented without any further delay.

The manifesto also places an emphasis on encouraging responsible breeding. The Kennel Club welcomed the partial integration of their Assured Breeder Scheme into 2018 breeding regulations which rewards responsible breeders but is urging the government to simplify them further.

Currently many trustworthy, low-volume home breeders are being deterred from breeding altogether, leaving a void in the market which is likely to be exploited by puppy farmers.

The Kennel Club therefore recommends removing the burdensome ‘business test’ for breeders who breed one or two litters a year, as well as simplifying the steps that breeders of three of four litters need to take in order to get a licence.

Empowering owners and their ability to exercise their dogs safely and responsibly is also addressed in the manifesto. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 specifies a legal requirement for those responsible for dogs to provide them with suitable exercise, however since the introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, dog walkers are increasingly being left without accessible or practical spaces to walk their dogs.

Therefore, the Kennel Club is calling n the government to require local authorities to ensure dog walkers have access to suitable land to exercise their dogs, as well as to amend the act to allow to challenge the validity of restrictive Public Spaces Protection Orders.

Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs, said: “Our manifesto highlights the strides that the Kennel Club has made so far in giving a voice to dogs, but most importantly all that still needs to be achieved.

“Prior to the election being called, we welcomed form commitments concerning shock collars and animal cruelty sentences, and it has been incredibly disappointing that these have halted. We look forward to working with an incoming government to ensure these previous obligations are prioritised and that further measures are put in place to protect the welfare of dogs.”

The Kennel Club manifesto can be found by visiting www.thekennelclub.org.uk.



















True Instinct launch ‘High Meat’ range for cats and kittens

True Instinct has introduced a ‘High Meat’ product for our feline friends to its premium range of dry and complete food.

With a recipe ratio of 73% high meat and 25% natural fruit, vegetables and botanicals, the nutritious dry biscuits have fantastic palatability and provide complete and balanced nutrition that helps fuel cats and kittens’ active lives.

The range is grain, gluten and cereal free with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives: all complete, balanced and veterinary approved.

Inspired by cats’ ancestral diet, the range includes Free-Range Chicken, Turkey with Duck and Salmon and Tuna.

Perfectly shaped for our younger feline friends, the new kitten product has a Free-Range Chicken variant that offers delicious high meat biscuits with no added sugar.

Benefits of the nutritious products include muscle mass maintenance, support for cats’ immune system, brain and vision development and is completely grain and gluten free.

Craig Taylor, Managing Director at True Instinct said: “As advocates for natural and nutritious feeding, we’re immensely proud to launch our new ‘High Meat’ range to all our feline friends. The super-premium products use only the highest-grade ingredients to help cats and kittens thrive and come in a format that we know they love too.”

The ‘High Meat’ cat range is available in 300g priced at £2.99 and 1.5kg bags, priced at £17.99.

For more information about the High Meat cat range you can visit www.trueinstinct.co.uk



RSPCA highlight heart breaking stories behind real-life stars of Christmas film

The RSPCA shines a light on the rescue animals who star in this year’s charity Christmas film.

Poppy the Labrador-cross

Already the film- featuring Poppy the Labrador cross and Frankie, the grey kitten alongside Shetland pony Tink – has racked up more than 190,000 views.

Frankie, the tiny grey kitten, was discovered after he wandered into a flat in Catford, South East London, at just four weeks old. The small kitten was emaciated, lethargic and dehydrated.

He was taken to RSPCA Putney Hospital in London where he was put on fluids and needed feedings round the clock as he was so young. Vet nurse Emma Turner fostered the little cross-eyed kitten so she could keep up his regular feeds and a few weeks ago, he was rehomed.

Frankie has now been named Lucio by his new owner, Rebecca Da Re who lives in Barnes, London. She said: “I think Lucio knew from the moment we collected him that he was going to his forever home, he was so calm and slept on me for the whole journey home. He has settled in so well, he’s the perfect addition to our family.”

Poppy went into the care of RSPCA when she was 18-months old after her elderly owners could no longer cope with her energy and size.

She was rehomed by RSPCA South Godstone Animal Centre in Surrey just a few weeks later, but sadly was returned to the rescue centre when she was five-years old.

Jo Davies and animal care assistant, who has worked at South Godstone for 13 years, remembered Poppy from a few years before and offered to foster her so she wouldn’t have to go back into kennels.

Jo said: “Poppy fitted in so well that I decided to adopt her myself. She’s such an intelligent dog which means she can become mischievous when she doesn’t get the exercise and stimulation she needs. I started doing heel work to music and with training and lots of exercise, it helped her to calm down a lot and also helped us to bond.

“At 12-years old she’s a docile, older dog now who helps lend a paw socialising foster kittens when I hand-rear them and other dogs. She’s worth her weight in gold.”

Poppy was working her part-time job as RSPCA’s South Godstone’s meeter and greeter when she was talent spotted to be in the RSPCA’s Christmas film.

The video – made in house by the RSPCA’s broadcast team and starring staff and friends who gave up their own time for filming – features a cover of Starship’s Nothing gonna stop us now’ sung by RSPCA press officer and singer Lucy Ellie.

It follows the story of Tink, the Shetland Pony who dreams of becoming one of Santa’s reindeer and delivering gifts of comfort, care and safety to her fellow rescue animals. Tink visits different animal centres with her cat delivering gifts of comfort, care and safety to the animals in need. Poppy and Frankie can be spotted on the Christmas film receiving presents from Tink.

To watch the film you can visit  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfD7X6RawXg











Winter wonderland grotto is set up for homeless dogs in Manchester

Christmas came early for the residents of Manchester Dogs Home in Cheshire, when a winter wonderland grotto was set up for them.

The snow-covered space featured a giant gingerbread hose made entirely from 2,000 dog biscuits, 1,600 chewy treats, 12 kilos of melted dog drops for ‘cement’ and 24 pup-friendly stockings.

The four-legged friends reacted with delight at the unusual festive décor. Footage captures the adorable pups munching at the walls and festive hangings. The pooches were also adorned with their own reindeer headbands as they sniffed their way around the grotto made especially for them.

Anna Stansfield, speaking on behalf of the dogs’ home, said of the event created by Wilko: “We were blown away when we got the surprise opportunity to welcome the grotto to our site for a festive celebration.

“We have more than 60 dogs here that are looking for loving homes – many won’t be adopted before Christmas, so this is a brilliant second best. The pets have all had a brilliant day, and to be honest, I think we have as well, seeing how much joy it has brought them.”

A survey of 2,000 dog owners, commissioned by Wilko also found an average of £27 is spent per-pooch on gifts over the festive season.

And more than one in 20 pet owners will shell out upwards of £100 on their beloved hound, with an average of three gifts bought per dog. And a quarter even confess to spending more on their pet than they have on some friends and family members.

According to the OnePoll data, more than half (58%) encourage friends and family to spend money on a present for their pet to open on Christmas Day.

When it comes to Christmas dinner, one in five pampered pooches are treated to their own specially-made plate, while 20% of owners allow their dog to have a seat at the table.

Daniel Bingham, senior buyer for pets for Wilko, said: “Most of us will be having a very Merry Christmas and as a retailer that sells gifts for all the family, we know that a major portion of the nation will be purchasing presents for their pets.

“But we also know that won’t be the case for a lot of less fortunate pets in rescue shelters and homes. Our survey results found Brits are willing to go the extra mile to really spoil their pets at Christmas, be it via gifts or even sitting at the dinner table, but there are still so many that deserve love.

“We were happy to do our bit to bring some festive cheer to Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home, and hopefully some of these beautiful dogs will soon enjoy a Christmas with a loving family.”
















Natures Menu share how to keep your pets safe this Christmas

With winter in full swing and the countdown just around the corner, Natures Menu reveals shocking festive favourites that have the potential to be hazardous to pets.

These include:

  • Christmas tree water
  • Chocolate
  • Christmas dinner
  • Christmas decorations
  • Silica gel
  • Christmas pudding and mince pies
  • Christmas plants
  • Batteries
  • Candles
  • Fires

As well as highlighting the hidden dangers around the home, Natures Menu is also urging pet owners to help protect their animals from the colder weather and reveals the steps we can take to keep our animals safe.

Cold feet – believe it or not, just like humans, pets can suffer from cold feet. Those with hairy feet are more susceptible to ide droplets forming in between their toes, which can cause them to feel uncomfortable and suffer from sore pads, so trim the hair around your dog’s feet to prevent this from happening. Also, after taking your furry friend our on a chilly walk, ensure you wash their feet with warm, but not hot, water.

Salty Paws – as the temperatures plunge, many councils will spread salt on the roads and pavements to prevent them from becoming too slippery. However, salt is not great for our four-legged friends’ sensitive pads and after being outside many dogs will lick their feet to clean them, resulting in our pooches ingesting the salty substance, which many cause gastric upset from vomiting and diarrhoea to dehydration, and could lead to an emergency vet visit of the symptoms persist. In a bid to stop this, rinse your pets’ paws after a crisp walk in the cold. Also, be aware of cats going outside and walking on salty, icy surfaces. It it’s very chilly, keep your cat inside and only let them out in the garden where you can keep a close eye on them.

Wet tails – if a dog does get wet during the cold weather, their muscles can get into spasm when they are trying to warm up, especially around the base of their tail. This can be extremely painful for your pooch, so always be sure to dry off your dog with a towel straight after a swim and allow them to warm up gradually. If your dog appears sad or is unable to wag their tail properly for a few hours after getting wet, take them to your local vets for a check-up and, if needed, they can prescribe anti-inflammatories and pain killers to reduce discomfort.

Watch out for ice – take care that your dog doesn’t lick cold or frozen surfaces. While dogs may like the sensation of cold on their tongues, some have been known to become stuck to objects, damaging their tongues severely or leading to ice burn in the mouth.

Melanie Sainsbury, Natures Menu veterinary nurse, said: “Whilst the thought of a white Christmas may be terribly exciting for us humans, harsh winter weather can pose some unwanted and surprising risks to our furry-friends. Here at Natures Menu, we urge pet owners to follow and share our handy top tips, so that pets across the country are kept safe and happy in the coming colder months.”





Dogs Trust reveals urgent improvements needed to report illegally imported dogs

New findings reveal that 74% of UK vet professionals believe they’ve seen a dog that could have been illegally imported in the past 12 months.

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity Dogs Trust polled professionals in the veterinary sector earlier this year to understand how confident they felt about identifying and reporting suspected cases of illegally imported dogs.

The findings revealed that although nearly three quarters of UK vet professionals believe they have seen illegally imported dogs, only 50% would know to report it to Trading Standards, which could mean that many cases go unreported.

As well as welfare concerns for the dogs imported, a key reason to report it is potential disease risk – puppies that have been illegally imported have often been given the required rabies vaccination at too young an age for it to be effective, whilst some may not have received it at all.

Dogs Trust has published four investigative reports exposing the trade, which have repeatedly shown that the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is being used as a cover to import underage puppies from central and eastern Europe for commercial reasons.

It is illegal to import dogs to Great Britain via PETS with the intention of selling them. Dogs Trust’s most recent reports revealed a trend for heavily pregnant dogs to be brought into the country with little care and consideration for them, or their unborn puppies’ health.

Recent figures released by Defra show that imports of dogs to Great Britain via the flawed Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) hit 307,357 dogs in 2018, up from 287,016 in 2017.

This is the sixth year in a row that numbers have increased since the controversial changes to PETS in 2012 standardised pet travel across the EU. In 2011, before the changes this figure was 85,786.

Findings from Dogs Trust’s poll revealed that two in five vet professionals said they had attempted to report illegally imported dogs and over half of those who did found the process difficult.

More than one in five (21%) of vet professionals said they would be unsure about reporting a puppy or dog they suspected that had been illegally imported into the UK in the first place.

Some of the major barrier to report cases included knowing the correct process; struggling to reach the right contact (particularly out of hours); uncertainty regarding client confidentiality and owners being unwilling to report.

Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said: “We have heard stories of vet professionals trying to report a dog they suspect could have been illegally imported but then struggling to get through to the relevant contact, whilst also having to explain the situation to the unsuspecting owners. These findings highlight an urgent need to improve the process of reporting cases to Trading Standards in a timely manner, particularly out of hours.

“More could be don’t to build confidence among vet professionals in the reporting process, so that when they take the time to report a suspected case, they feel assured it will be handled promptly and consistently. We will continue to do all we can to assist Trading Standards and other agencies to improve this process.

“It is clear that an improved protocol around reporting needs to come hand in hand with better public awareness of the illegal importation of dogs.”

For more information on Dogs Trust’s work on puppy smuggling you can visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/puppy-smuggling/.







Christmas presents for the cat lover

It’s Christmas! Well, very nearly and it’s that time of year when we all rush out to get the perfect present for loved ones.

It’s that time of the year when we’re thinking about our loved ones and what will bring a big smile to their faces on Christmas day… Or at the very least, panicking that we’ve not been thinking about it at all and hastily scribbling to-do lists!

To help you to get the perfect gift for the cat lover in your life, Cat in a Flat has put together a hot-list of pressie ideas, Yay! — baubles all round.

2020 Cat Calendar by Axel Scheffler & Friends

As a cat lover, who wouldn’t love planning their months ahead on a beautifully illustrated kitty calendar by Axel Scheffler (the illustrator of The Gruffalo ) and friends? Available exclusively through CatInAFlat.com, all profits are donated to support endangered wild cats in the care of BornFree.org.uk. So, while you organise your life, you also get to save a life, win-win for all.

Advent Calendar for your Cat

A fun and festive gift for your cat to count down to Christmas in the most entertaining way. Lily’s Kitchen charming, hand drawn Advent Calendar for cats whisks you into the world of a Christmas pantomime celebration with plenty of merriment and mischief! Each window of the theatre is generously filled with Lily’s Kitchen naturally wholesome treats.

Belly Rubs and nose kissing!

For the cat lover who wants to go away, without the guilt, give them a Cat in a Flat voucher; the gift of a trusted, kitty loving cat sitter. Ready to drop by and pamper your recipient’s furry loved one at agreed times during the days they are away, a cat sitter will follow specific cat caring instructions. That way you and your friend/family can be sure that their cat will be properly cared for and won’t get lonely while they are away.

Molecular Motifs

This necklace pendant is designed after the molecular structure of Nepetalactone which is the active compound found in Catnip. When a cat eats catnip, it acts as a sedative, but when smelled, it mimics feline pheromones and triggers those receptors causing kittens to go crazy! This gift is perfect for all those science-loving cat lovers out there. Wearing this will make them purr!

Cat Tea Towel

This beautifully illustrated tea towel is created by Amy Fenton who is a member of the ARTHOUSE Unlimited collective. The cats are printed in striking orange on 100% cotton will definitely brighten up any cat lover’s kitchen!

Real Men Love Cats Mug

And here is a little gift idea for the extra special cat lovers in our family. The cat lovers that might not go as crazy and loud as the rest of us, but instead show it in their very own subtle way. You all know who we are talking about!

With all these Christmas ideas we’re sure cat lovers won’t be disappointed with their Christmas stocking.











Kathrin Burckhardt and Julie Barnes are Co-Founders of Cat in a Flat. Cat in a Flat is a trusted cat-sitting community created by cat lovers for cat lovers. Its mission is to help cats stay in the comfort of their own homes by connecting cat owners with trusted, insured, local, cat-loving sitters. https://catinaflat.com 

Dachshunds through the snow: can you help the RSPCA care for 9 pups?

RSPCA staff are working around the clock to care for nine Dachshund puppies and their mum in the run-up to Christmas.

Miniature Dachshund Olive arrived in the RSPCA’s care last month along with her nine three-week old puppies who staff believe had been bred for sale as Christmas presents.

The dogs were all signed over into RSPCA care and the pups – now six-weeks old – are now preparing to go jingle all the way into their new homes.

Staff at RSPCA Halifax, Huddesfield, Bradford and District branch have been providing round-the-clock care to the young family and are appealing to the public for help.

Manager Julie Cockroft said: “We have to have one member of staff constantly allocated to these puppies as even the simplest of tasks – such as checking an cleaning their teeth – can take ages with nine wriggly, little puppies.

“They need a lot of care and, also a lot of specialist things so if any members of the public are able to help by making donations or dropping off any useful items then that would be hugely helpful. We’re particularly looking for puppy food and toys to keep them entertained.

“We are currently taking applications for these adorable little pups and we’ve been absolutely inundated with responses – with more than 500 coming into us. In less than 24 hours, some from as far afield as Thailand.

“If you’d like to apply for one of the pups please check out their online profile and submit your application from before Saturday (7 December) at midnight.”

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolf are not yet ready to go to their new homes. Staff would like to get the rehoming process under way so that the pups can go to their new homes in the New Year.

The centre has asked that members of the public remain patient as it will take them some time to go through all of the applications and they may not be able to respond to everyone. They ask that you don’t call the centre to ask about the puppies as you may prevent an emergency from getting through.

Julie added: “We’ve only got nine puppies and we’ve already got hundreds of families who are interested so we would love it if people could look at some of the other dogs in our care who are also hoping to find their forever homes.

“If you aren’t matched to one of the puppies then please do consider their mum, Olive, or one of our other dogs, such as Stella or Max. While we do ask for an adoption donation for each of the dogs to rehome, we always end up at a loss – particularly with puppies who require los of specialist food, round-the-clock care and veterinary treatments.

“So if anyone would like to donate whatever they can to help cover our costs for caring for these puppies and all of the other animals we’re helping in the run-up to Christmas and over the festive season, we’d be hugely grateful.”

To donate directly to RSPCA Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford & District branch you can visit www.rspcahalifaxhuddersfieldbradford.org.uk.










Staffie saved by charity vets after swallowing carpet

A four-year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier left PDSA vet floored after they discovered a piece of carpet lodged in his stomach.

Curious canine Buster needed life-saving surgery after biting off more than he could chew and swallowing a prime piece of rug in the process.

Buster’s owner, Jamie-Leigh Richardson from Preston suspected something was wrong when the usually playful pooch seemed weak and went off his food. When his condition didn’t improve, she took him to Blackpool PDSA Pet Hospital.

The charity’s vets were surprised when x-rays revealed such a big mass in his tummy. After rushing him into surgery to remove the potentially fatal object, they discovered it was a piece of carpet that was lodged in his stomach and guts.

Jamie-Leigh said: “Buster is usually full of beans, so I was really worried when he wasn’t acting himself. Instead of running around the house and playing with the children, he was out of sorts and down in the dumps. Buster has a big appetite, but I was so shocked when the vet showed us the piece of carpet following surgery.”

Left untreated, the carpet could have caused a fatal blockage or tears in the guts. PDSA Vet Jennifer Jackson was able to carry out the successful operation and Buster was discharged a few days later after rest and recovery.

PDSA Vet Jennifer Jackson said: “We see dogs that eat strange things all the time, but I can’t say I have ever had to remove a piece of carpet before. Objects can sometimes sit in the stomach for a while, but they cause problems when they move into the guts, which are much narrower. It was a good job Jamie-Leigh brought Buster in when she did. He’d eaten huge amounts of carpet which could have had deadly consequences if any more had tried to move into his guts.”

Jamie-Leigh added: “Buster is such a big part of the family, and none of us could bear to lose him. He has made a great recovery and is back to his energetic best. This was my first experience with PDSA, and I cannot praise Jennifer and the rest of the team enough, they are worth their weight in gold.”

According to PDSA, dogs can be naturally curious and like to use their mouths to investigate objects. This is more common with puppies and younger dogs, but some older pets can sometimes swallow items by mistake.

This can be quite dangerous, as many items could cause a gut blockage, and some might also be toxic or sharp. Owners are advised to speak to their vet for advice as soon as possible if they suspect their pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have.

For further information including signs and symptoms to look out for if you think your pet might have eaten something they shouldn’t you can visit www.pdsa.org.uk.