The cold weather that winter brings can be severe, and asides from putting up the costs of our heating bills it can be an especially difficult time for animals: pets, wildlife and animals without homes can all suffer during the winter. For a charity in the UK it can be an especially difficult time, since all UK charities are reliant solely on the goodwill of the public to make donations or to take part in fundraising events. At Christmas, everyone has less cash to spare, but the bills for a UK charity like the RSPCA to heat and feed the animals in their care go up just as your home energy bills rise at this time of year.
Helping a charity is an excellent way to help to care for animals this winter: take a look at the RSPCA’s Choices website, for example, to see a list of projects that need your help. This winter the RSPCA has launched the Everyday Heroes campaign, raising awareness of and asking for funds to support the vital work done by RSPCA Inspectors, who are on the front line of protecting and rescuing pets, strays and wildlife in need of help. If you prefer, you can support one of their other projects such as Help Hedgehogs to Survive or Rehome a Dog. You can make a donation directly to any of the projects on the Choices site and you will be kept informed of the progress made towards the ultimate target for that project over time. Or perhaps you could think of some easy fundraising ideas to get more people involved and raise even more money for your chosen project.
If you’d rather, you could always contact your local animal shelter and ask whether they need any support, either in terms of time (if you could spare some time to volunteer to help out), blankets or food.
The RSCPA Inspectors are often called out by people concerned about neighbours’ pets, or about animals found outside without any apparent owners. Here are a couple of other things to bear in mind when considering how to care for animals this winter.
1. Bring your pets inside
Whether you have a caged animal in your garden such as a rabbit or guinea pig, or usually keep your dog in your yard, now is the time to start bringing them indoors, especially at night. If you have a shed, you could consider moving a hutch in there, making sure that your pet has enough bedding and is protected from drafts; check that their water is not frozen. Always keep an eye on the temperature because you may still need to bring your pet indoors. Dogs should be brought inside during the winter months.
By this time you will, hopefully, have put out a bird feeder to feed the birds fed when the ground is frozen. Please make sure you keep the food topped up as birds quickly learn the location of food sources and can struggle to cope if a known food supply disappears
Please remember animals at this time of year and do whatever you can to give them a happy Christmas.