In this blog, our CEO, Kirsteen Campbell, talks about the changes we're making at the Scottish SPCA to enable us to continue to improve the lives of animals, both now and in the future, to make Scotland the best place for an animal to call home.
Winston Churchill once said that ‘to improve is to change’. It’s in the spirit of improving the way we do things, and improving access to vital support for animals and people, that the Scottish SPCA is changing.
To live up to our commitment to be here for all animals, always, we have to adapt with the times. Make no mistake, there is an animal welfare crisis in Scotland and the Scottish SPCA provides a lifeline to the animals and people who need our help more now than ever.
It is in this spirit that, earlier this week, we set out ambitious plans to rescue more animals than ever, and reach more pet owners in need than ever before too.
By the end of 2024, we will:
- Increase the number of animals we rehome by 15%, meaning hundreds more animals find a new home each year.
- Triple the number of fostering families in our network, from 200 to 600, allowing us to foster hundreds more animals at any one time.
- Double the number of food banks and community larders working with Pet Aid, our service providing essential pet supplies to animals and people when they desperately need it. Keeping people and pets together.
- Expand our Pet Aid services and establish access to veterinary support for animals, in part thanks to a £240,000 grant received recently from the Pets at Home Foundation.
This, coupled with a new partnership with Citizen’s Advice Scotland to improve access to services and intervene early when animal and human welfare is at risk, is truly a pioneering form of animal rescue. Getting ahead of problems. Being where animals and people are and helping them in their communities. Forming partnerships with like-minded organisations and extending our reach.
Why are we doing this?
Simple. The evidence tells us that we need to get ahead of the challenges facing animals and people. We’ve been improving services and introducing new services in response to this, with evident success.
Our fostering has grown by almost 500% year on year with more animals being cared for in a home while they wait for their forever home. Rehoming has improved by 8% meaning animals are spending less time in our rescue centres. All helping us cope with the rising numbers of animals who need us.
Alongside this our Pet Aid service has given over 1,000 animals and people a lifeline, our inspectors are supporting thousands of people in their own homes and we’re offering more advice in more ways than ever before.
These efforts have driven down instances of unintentional abuse reports to our helpline by 47% this year. This gives us the confidence that offering community outreach and scaling up Pet Aid will give others that lifeline and stop a minor issue from becoming a full-blown animal welfare investigation.
With a 10% increase in calls to our Helpline, an 11% increase in calls to give up animals and a 27% increase in animals coming in to our care, we need to put our foot on the pedal and accelerate this work. Citizens Advice Scotland report an estimated 220,000 people in Scotland are cutting back on pet care due to costs, and that will only increase the animal welfare crisis if we don’t get on top of it.
How are we delivering this?
Joining our inspectors, animal rescue officers, education officers and helpline who are delivering lifeline services in communities every day, our fostering, rehoming, and community engagement teams are going to grow with new roles created. With this, comes the opportunity to really scale up our fostering and rehoming capacity while providing support to prevent an animal from coming into our care in the first place.
As a result of the changes, two of our smaller animal rescue and rehoming centres in Ayrshire and Caithness will close. Colleagues at each centre have been offered redeployment opportunities, with no compulsory redundancies and an opportunity to play a key role in helping to grow fostering, rehoming and Pet Aid, establish local partnerships and embed our services in local communities more than ever before.
As with all things in life, change is an adjustment and I understand why people might be worried that closing a centre must surely mean services are reduced. But we have examined the local picture and crunched the numbers.
Less than 5% of the animals we cared for last year were at these two centres, and in building out our fostering service and continuing to improve our rehoming we will be increasing our overall capacity. Each region will have someone dedicated to community engagement, improving access to animal welfare services for the animals and people of Ayrshire, Caithness and indeed all across Scotland. Pets, farmed animals and wildlife.
Making life better in every community
This Scottish SPCA is already embedded in communities and this us about doing even more. Helping more animals and people than ever. We have over 120 inspectors and animal rescue officers providing services across Scotland every day. This support remains the same with these teams on-hand to answer the call when a pet, wild or farmed animal needs help every single day of the year. And we’re doing it more efficiently than ever.
Our education teams continue to support every community with our Helpline also running 365 days a year, responding to animals and people in need. Our centres will always play a vital role in our approach to animal rescue and rehoming and we’ll continue to operate other centres in key sites across Scotland as well as our world leading wildlife hospital.
Animal rescue goes far beyond the bricks and mortar of a rescue centre and as more and more people turn to us for help we’re adapting the way we do things and getting ahead of that growing demand. We’ve been doing animal rescue since 1839. And it is in the spirit of placing animal rescue at the heart of every community in Scotland that we’ll approach things for decades to come.