One Voice for Animals UK Guest Blog by Pete Foggon, Founder of Sompting Wildlife Rescue
Some larger, more established rescues may call us a "back yard" rescue, and to a degree I guess that’s correct, but that doesn't mean we compromise on care or facilities, and everyone has to start somewhere. My name is Pete, and I'd like to tell you a bit about the work we do at our wildlife rescue, Sompting Wildlife Rescue.
Sompting Wildlife Rescue is situated at the foot of the south downs national park, in Sompting, West Sussex. We cater for all wildlife across Sussex. We have our limits on what, or how long we can treat an animal, but we will always help if we can.
My wife and I are both veterinary nurses and have been rescuing and treating wildlife for 20 years or so. It was only when we moved to a larger house 5 years ago, we set up Sompting Wildlife Rescue.
Our main casualties tended to be from our workplaces, animals that needed somewhere to go after initial treatment at a veterinary clinic. Wounds that required flushing and dressing several times a day, fractures that needed time to heal and possible physio, that larger rescues do not necessarily have the time for. Our little niche was perfect for what we do. We launched Sompting Wildlife Rescue officially in 2019, gaining charity status in 2020.
In 2020, we saw wildlife care change, the pandemic came, and people were at home more watching the wildlife in their gardens. This of course meant that animals that were previously left to their own devices, were under scrutiny and in some cases interfered with when they didn't need to be. My wife and I continued to work throughout the pandemic, but along with this we saw a significant increase in wildlife needing care. People unable to get help at veterinary centres or couldn't travel to larger rescues meant our service became essential. We started taking in more animals than ever before and even enlisted the help of our three daughters for feeding and cleaning out, and they still help today with great enthusiasm for the work we do.
Being a smaller home run rescue meant in the past we were funded out of our wages. The sudden increase in admissions meant we had to start asking for money to help with animal’s care. Anyone who knows us knows we do not like asking for money, but a sad fact is that it is needed to continue to grow and offer the best treatments.
Last year we were left a small legacy from a lady we had never met, and as far as we were aware, have had no dealing with! This injection of cash has meant we can replace old tatty aviaries, and best of all, with begging and pleading, are building a small Hospital unit in our garden. This unit is being fitted out with stainless steel kennels instead of previous wooden ones, as well as all the mod cons you'd expect of a clinic. This should also open us up to be able to ask for volunteers to help too.
Any larger wildlife we attend or aid that we can't keep longer term will normally be transferred to a larger rescue with the correct facilities for that species. We've worked hard on building relationships with other rescues and in return some have sent animals our way that may require some extra 1 to 1 care.
This year Bird Flu has been the biggest issue for most of us. We've some fantastic local animal welfare groups that have been collecting and transporting wildlife to vet clinics for check-ups and then onto wildlife rehabilitation centres. This has limited, at times, what we can take as we have had to isolate every bird that has come our way.
Unfortunately, a larger wildlife rescue close to us, closed due to retirement. This increased calls and admissions significantly for everyone in the local area. We now see all wildlife and provide rehabilitation or, if we can’t, we'll send it where it needs to go! It’s now become a full-time job overtaking the hours our usual day jobs put in. Things have changed significantly since we started and costs have spiralled upwards, but as long as we can get funding through the door we'll keep going, onwards and upwards
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