OVER the last 30 years, the RSPCA animal centre in Wade Street, Halifax, has taken in countless unwanted and neglected pets and found them their forever homes.
As the shelter celebrates its anniversary today, it’s a chance to focus on the future as well as reflect on its tireless work over the last three decades.
“We’re very pleased to have reached this milestone, but we want to be around for the next 30 years and we need support to be able to do this,” says Kath Airey, chairwoman of the charity’s Halifax, Huddersfield and District branch.
It costs the centre around £400,000 a year to keep its doors open and carry on giving animals the happy endings they deserve.
To help reach that huge sum this year, trustees have published a commemorative 30th anniversary book and calendar.
As well as the history of the centre, it features the stories of many of the animals that have come into its care over the years.
Many had suffered cruelty and neglect at the hands of cruel owners until inspectors stepped in and handed them over to the branch.
“Over the years some just stand out and they are my main inspiration and passion to keep our doors open,” says Kath.
Among the worst cases she remembers is that of lurcher Tony.
“His companion had starved to death in a shed at the bottom of a garden without any food or water,” she recalls.
“Tony was just barely alive, that was really horrific.”
Luckily, the skeletal dog had been rescued just in time and staff were able to nurse him back to health and find him a loving new home.
It’s something the charity, which has a non-destruction policy, is committed to doing.
“Things have changed a lot over the last 30 years and we need to dispel that myth that there’s a time limit on any animal that comes to us,” says Kath.
“Any animal that comes to us is there for as long as it takes - we never put healthy animals to sleep.”
The centre is inundated with animals and its cattery is almost always full, with dozens more cats and kittens in foster homes.
And it’s not just our furry, four-legged friends that turn up on its doorstep. In recent years the branch has taken in everything from a bearded dragon to a rooster.
“You never know what’s coming through the door next,” says Kath.
“You’ll get a cardboard box and you won’t really know what it’ll be - an animal or a donation.”
Donations are something the charity always needs more of, and it’s community fund-raiser Lauren Moore’s job to drum them up.
“Without funds coming in, we just wouldn’t be able to care for the animals,” she says.
“Looking around the area there’s not many places animals can go to so we are quite important in the local community.
“We just need support. If people don’t want to donate money we’ll happily take food and we always need help fundraising and helping to promote events.”
The branch’s history dates back to 1925, and in the 1930s was based at Barum House, Halifax, where The Salvation bar now stands.
In the 1940s it moved to The Woolshops, where it remained until 1977 when Calderdale Council bought it out and offered its current site, which was officially opened on October 10, 1981, by Lord Savile.
“Everyone was very happy about going to a new site. The space we had at Woolshops was very cramped,” says Kath.
“Since then we’ve been improving conditions for the animals constantly.”
To keep caring for them, however, the charity needs your help.
“People do think that we are sat on a pile of money because of what they read about the national RSPCA,” says Kath.
“But our message is we’re a local branch, totally dependant on funding from local people.”
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the branch is asking people to take part in its £30 challenge to raise £30,000.
“If we can get £30 from 1,000 people that would be a significant amount towards paying for veterinary care and food for the animals,” she says.
The branch is also asking the people of Calderdale to get together for its Big Sunday Lunch event on October 30.
For more details of how to get involved, call 01422 365628 or visit www.rspca-halifax.org.uk.
The commemorative books and calendars, which cost £6, are available from the website or from the RSPCA’s charity shops in Halifax town centre, King Cross, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Ripponden and Huddersfield, plus Fred Wade’s bookstore, Halifax.