With more people come more pets and consequently, more problems. Every year hundreds of animals are abandoned, rejected and cruelly mistreated. The RSPCA is usually involved and the local branch and shelter bear an enormous burden serving a catchment area of about 400 square miles.
By the early 1980s the facilities at the Branches' Park Gate shelter were at breaking point and overcrowding, growing waiting lists, obsolete equipment and other pressures handicapped efforts to respond to a growing need. The Branch took on the task of searching for new accommodation and in 1984 took a great gamble and bought this 8 acre site here at Ranvilles Farm in Stubbington.
“State of the art”
Despite the excellent new facilities, expansion has been necessary year by year to keep pace with the ever-growing demands made by todays’ uncaring society. Ignorance being the key to many of the problems the we face, ‘The Ark’ considers education vital to ensure a better future for animals. We are one of the few shelters in the country to have developed an Education Centre and we encourage visits from school parties, youth groups and adult groups. Promoting knowledge of the work we do and the problems we face, will hopefully pay dividends in years to come.
In the meantime, the fight goes on and we have built a puppy unit, puppy play area/socialisation area and a similar area for adult dogs. The intake and isolation cattery has been re-designed and renovated to provide distinct quarters for infectious diseases as well as casualty and maternity areas. In addition we have built an adoption cattery, adding 30 more cat units; enlarged our reception building and staff areas; modernised our communications systems; re-fenced paddock areas; modernised old stables; built goat stables and updated our heating and ventilation systems. Our latest commitment are purpose built Small Animal Units, a dedicated Rabbit Unit, and Ferret Unit providing specialised accommodation for rabbits and guinea pigs, ferrets, small animals and exotics, and domestic bird aviaries. The project also integrates a new Wildlife Unit providing a wild bird unit, a casualty unit, wildlife pond, ducklings ponds and eventually a fox and badger unit.
We have developed assessment and rehabilitation programs for socially disabled animals and radically changed veterinary routines to improve welfare standards. Thanks to our generous supporters, in 2010 ahead of schedule, we opened a "State of the Art" Veterinary Unit costing £700,000 providing 21st century facilities and procedures for the thousands of animals needing care each year. With veterinary staff on site 7 days a week we aim to meet every need. All cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets are neutered on site in our operating theatre and we microchip all adopted cats, dogs and ferrets. Staff too all have the opportunity to undertake first class internal an external courses and all have succeeded in, and continue to take further NVQ qualifications in Animal Care. The result is a confident, dedicated, skilled and professional workforce providing the best care we can for the many needy animals in our care.
We are now receiving 7 times as many calls for help as in 1984 when we first conceived ‘The Ark’ project. That is over 145 calls a day and each year take in over 6,000 animals. At present we have over 140 dogs and nearly 150 cats looking for new homes. We have a multitude of other pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds that we try to re home and wildlife we try to help. Last year we found homes for 85% of our charges but that record has become hard to maintain. The easy availability of animals from unscrupulous breeders, puppy farms and irresponsible owners who refuse to neuter their animals, coupled with an amazing lack of knowledge on how to look after animals by many owners, ensures a constant stream of unwanted animals into the shelter.
The Ark was founded
Ranvilles farm was purchased
State-of-the-art veterinary surgery built