A WORRIED animal-lover has made an urgent plea for support after the number of pets handed into his rescue centre doubled in just a year.
John Arnold, who runs South Tyneside and Sunderland Animal Rescue, which is based in Dean Road, South Shields, is currently providing shelter for nearly 90 cats and nine dogs, as well as a handful of rabbits and guinea pigs.
Mr Arnold says the financial strain placed on recession-hit residents has forced many to give up their pets – with his organisation there to offer much-needed help.
He said: “The phone never stops ringing. You are frightened to pick it up sometimes, as you don’t know what story you are going to hear next people.
“We have double the animals we had this time last year.
“The recession is a problem. People are under financial strain and have to choose keeping a roof over their heads, and that takes priority over their animals.
“Many just can’t afford to look after their pets. We are pushed into a corner as we will always help.
“People have rung up and said if we won’t take their pet in, they will be left on the streets. We try never to turn an animal away.”
Mr Arnold looks after 26 elderly cats in his own home in Dean Road, while 61 cats are being cared for in eight foster homes, with nine dogs taken in by four homes, but they still need a permanent home with the pressure growing on Mr Arnold’s small army of passionate volunteers.
He added: “I have one volunteer who can take in as many as 18 cats, but we can’t ask them to do any more than that.
“We need people to help in any way we can, we need more fosterers, people who can take in pets or offer a donation of money or food at our charity shop. Animals can’t speak for themselves, so they need us to speak up for them.”
Donations are needed to pay for veterinary bills as well as for neutering costs for cats and dogs.
The rescue centre has a charity shop based at 156 Dean Road.
Those able to help out can drop in or call the shop on 455 6431.