Abandoned and unwanted animals flood the charity’s North Devon centres thanks to Christmas and the credit crunch.

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THE North Devon Animal Ambulance has been inundated with a flood of unwanted, stray or injured animals in what has been described as its busiest time ever.

Unfortunately, Christmas is always a busy time, but this year both the charity’s special care unit at Pottington and its rehoming centre are overflowing.

Diana Lewis at the Animal Ambulance said they had some 40-50 cats and kittens, plus dogs, around 30 rabbits and numerous smaller furry animals such as gerbils, ferrets and guinea pigs, all requiring care and seeking a new home.

“This year, things are the worst they have ever been,” she said.

“Mainly because people are losing their homes and rented accommodation won’t take pets, plus people are finding it harder now to pay vets bills.

“We are always getting referrals from social services or the police, mainly for animals that have either been abandoned or are simply unwanted.

“One of the saddest things is that this time of year we always get dozens healthy, unwanted older animals as people get rid of them quite unashamedly so that they can go and get kittens or puppies.”

The charity often also ends up looking after pets for elderly people who have become unwell or had to go into hospital but cannot afford kennel fees.

“Our volunteers who look after the animals have been absolutely superb in their dedication and even on Christmas Day they will be here giving up their time to look after the animals, who will all receive their own stocking on Christmas morning,” added Diana.

The animals in the charity’s care are all in need of new loving homes after the trauma and confusion of losing their previous ones, but the charity will not rehome anything during the festive period.

“Christmas is absolutely not the time to have a new puppy or kitten in the household,” said Diana.

“Lots of visitors, doors being left open, excited children and teenagers is not the environment for frightened or confused young animals, which need a calm environment to adjust.

“One tragic case I had a couple of Christmases ago was a new kitten in a local household that was playing with discarded wrapping paper – a child accidentally stepped on the paper and broke the kitten’s back. It was tragic for the whole family and it ruined their whole Christmas.”

But people are welcome to make enquiries if they wish to adopt animals after Christmas: For cats and small animals call (01271) 323740 or for dogs call (01271) 860376.

North Devon Animal Ambulance is on hand around the clock to help rescue both wild and domestic animals. For emergencies or assistance call Diana Lewis on (01598) 740603 or 07817 995751.

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