Animal sanctuary will close 'without £40,000 a month' + Video

The Oxford Times: Assistant warden Aaron Denton with American bulldog Cuba Buy this photo Assistant warden Aaron Denton with American bulldog Cuba

A SANCTUARY caring for 250 abandoned animals is facing closure after 46 years unless it can raise an extra £40,000 a month.

Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary currently spends £60,000 a month but has a regular income of £20,000.

Bosses say it will close in less than a year unless major investments are made.

After the bad weather damaged its cat shelter, the site needs more money than ever.

A fund-raising drive started in November, which asked animal lovers to pledge £2 a month, has so far only raised an extra £2,000 a month.

Assistant warden Aaron Denton, who runs the centre with his partner Rachel Tatam, said: “We are in desperate need. We are eating into our reserves and have less than a year’s money at the moment.”

The centre currently cares for about 100 dogs, more than 100 cats, a dozen rabbits, two horses, two goats and five sheep.

Many animals brought in come from a family break-up where neither partner wants to keep their pet, or cannot be bothered, said Mr Denton.

Others are brought in sick while some are found on the roadside.

Sam Gee from Thame adopted her Staffordshire bull terrier Dobby from the sanctuary in July.

She visited the centre four times a week for a month to get to know Dobby before taking him home.

Now, she says: “He’s perfect for us in every way.

“We would be very sad to see them close. I think they get overlooked for the bigger sanctuaries.”

The sanctuary has charity shops in Summertown, Carterton, Witney and Didcot but those are not enough to pay for the centre’s 18 full-time staff and costs.

Vet bills alone are £126,000 a year.

Staff costs amount to £270,000 a year and the site spends £73,000 on food and bedding, £16,000 on waste disposal and £8,500 on transport.

Spokeswoman Phoebe Cox said in the past year more animals had come in in a worse condition.

She said: “I think there has been a rise in vets’ bills and more people are struggling to pay.”

Staff have now made a video appeal available on its website and YouTube. It asks for fundraising events or sponsored challenges.

GREAT RECORD

  • Founding members rescued stray animals and housed them in boarding kennels and catteries in the 1960s.
  • During the very cold Christmas of 1967, the Oxford Mail published a picture of founder member Margaret Gray feeding hay to ponies on Port Meadow.
  • The picture was seen by Sybil Morley, who gave the group £10,000 to help buy a sanctuary.
  • The South Oxfordshire Hunt put its property on the market at Stadhampton and it became Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, with volunteers turning the stables and hounds’ quarters into kennels.
  • In 1970 35 animals were moved from boarding homes in the county to the sanctuary.
  • The sanctuary has suffered funding difficulties in recent years. In 2009 an appeal in the Oxford Mail saw an open day flooded with supporters offering cash and help.
  • £80,000 was raised in gifts and the sanctuary was sustained for a year after supporter Vivian Kirk, bequeathed his home to it.

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