It’s a sad fact that, while we may still like to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, the need for animal rescues and shelters is greater than ever.
And it is a never-ending battle for those involved in rescuing animals and finding homes for cruelty cases, or for those pets abandoned or those whose owners, for whatever reason, can no longer keep them.
It is only matched by the constant struggle to raise sufficient funds to continue this work and that is why we are delighted to reveal that your favourite local newspaper is linking up with Borders Pet Rescue to help promote this amazing local charity.
Starting next month, readers will find a regular column from Borders Pet Rescue dealing with a host of animal and pet-related issues.
Originally launched under the banner of Borders Animal Welfare Association in 1989, it may have changed and have a smart new logo, but its mission remains the same - the rescue and re-homing of domestic pets in the Borders and to promote responsible pet ownership through education and training.
Based at Craigsford in Earlston, the charity’s work is overseen by general manager Simon Cullum.
He took on the role in February last year and is already overseeing ambitious plans for a dog park and an exciting four-year project to improve and expand existing premises.
As well as Simon, there are four part-time centre staff and a list of 60 volunteers who give up varying amounts of their free time to help out.
And with the centre costing £120,000 a year to run, those volunteers play a crucial role.
“There’s no way we could run this place without our volunteers and we’re always looking for names to add to that list,” explained Simon, who comes from a retail background although with considerable experience of volunteering for animal causes.
Of the volunteers, some give up just a few hours whereas others will work several shifts a week. The charity also runs two fund-raising shops in Galashiels and Duns.
As well as the four main groups of animals dealt with - dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs – the centre also takes in vulnerable hedgehogs in early winter.
The centre finds new homes for about 60 dogs each year and last year every single dog plus around 175 cats seeking a new home were found a family.
The premises can hold six dogs and 26 cats at any one time and the animals remain in its care until a home is found.
“If they have to stay with us for several months or even years then that’s what will happen. There’s no time limit.”
And Simon says the reasons animals are given up are varied: “When I first started I thought it would be all cruelty cases, but it’s not like that at all.
“The vast majority of animals we deal with are much loved family pets but for various reasons their owners can no longer look after them.
“Couples splitting up is a huge reason; someone has died, had an accident or have to leave their current home and can’t take their pet with them. Most people are lovely and would do anything to keep an animal, but sometimes circumstances mean they just can’t.”
As well as the planned development of the dog exercise park on land bequeathed to the charity on the edge of Earlston, there is also the four-year project to improve and expand the facilities at the current centre which would double its animal capacity.
Simon added: “We’ll need a lot of support from a lot of people to make this dream a reality, but it would create a fantastic facility and take care of all the animals on our waiting list.”