RSPCA branch in Rhyl sees surge in animals in need during pandemic

A North-Wales based RSPCA branch saw a 27% increase of animals it helped last year during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RSPCA’s Clwyd and Colwyn Branch, which runs a Rhyl-based clinic on Vaughan Street, received more than 28,000 calls for assistance during 2020. They delivered frontline support to 3,464 animals, an increase of 27.5% compared with the 2,716 animals they assisted the previous year.

In total, the branch saw 2,171 dogs, 1,255 cats and 38 other animals at their clinic in 2020, which provides affordable veterinary treatment to animals whose owners are in receipt of state benefits or have lower annual outcomes.

Following the announcement of the first coronavirus lockdown, the Rhyl clinic expanded their services to RSPCA clients from across the whole North Wales region – with other branch premises, and a mobile clinic, having to close amid the health crisis.

The clinic prioritised emergency services – delivering urgent treatment for animals, advice for animal owners and repeat prescriptions. It is staffed by a three-member team; branch manager Kieren Barlow, veterinarian Olatz Iglesias and veterinary care assistant Clare Darbey.

During strict coronavirus-related restrictions, the clinic even utilised the support of three kind-hearted motorcyclists who volunteered to deliver prescriptions and medicines to animals during the lockdown restrictions – with Jimmy Aspinall, Daniel Hilton and Neil Pearson riding their Suzuki 1250 Bandit, Aprilia Tuono 125 and Yamaha Tracer 900 bikes to make Covid-compliant deliveries to pets in need.

Branch manager Kieren said: “We’ve crunched the numbers, and are delighted to see a huge increase in the number of animals we were able to help in 2020 – with 3,464 animals seen by our clinic.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult and unprecedented period – and we quickly had to introduce new safety protocols to ensure we could help clients and treat thousands of animals in a safe way. Not all animal-related services were able to remain open last year, and our Rhyl clinic had to vastly increase our reach to help animals all across North Wales. Our volunteers have been amazing too – from Jimmy, Daniel and Neil on their motorbikes, to Shell and Shakira answering calls and supporting clients.

“The clinic has a huge client base and provides affordable vet treatments for animals whose owners are on lower incomes or in receipt of state benefits. We’re proud to have been there for them all throughout this pandemic.”
Animals helped by the clinic include client Lianne Sweetman’s three dogs – border collie marley, French bulldog/pug cross Emmy, and Jack Russell Toby.

She has praised the “absolutely fantastic” Rhyl clinic, who supported her with financial assistance for treatment for the dogs, including when Emmy had a stroke.

Lianne added: “The staff at the Clwyd & Colwyn Branch’s Rhyl clinic have always been so kind and it’s an absolutely fantastic service for the community. A decade or so ago, I became very poorly and had to give up work. I’ve got three rescue dogs – and the clinic has been fantastic in supporting me with veterinary bills. I sadly lost one of my dogs some while back, and when I said goodbye to my beloved pet the Clinic staff were all there with me and shared the emotions.

“They’ve always been there for my three dogs Marley, Emmy and Toby – including when Emmy had a nasty stroke. Nothing is ever too much trouble for the Branch, who always go above and beyond; so I’m not surprised to hear that they helped so many animals in 2020.”

More information on the work of the Clwyd and Colwyn Branch can be found online.