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As well as founding the Ealing Animal Charities Fair, Marion Garnett has also, since 2011, written a weekly Animal Rescue column which is published in the West London local paper, the Gazette. Columns published since January 2019 are now available online here.


If you would like to see any of the columns published before 2019, please contact Marion directly (see Contacts page).

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Column 1st April 2019


Looking round the photos at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum, some photos leap out and speak to you in a personal way, more than others. The first to do this, for me, was “Ghost Colony” – a photo of hundreds of lonely abandoned flamingo eggs laid out, each on their own, stretching into the salt desert as far as the eye could see. The flamingos had laid them and then been forced to abandon their nests after low rainfall had brought the early arrival of salt pan workers.


The photo reminded me, to some extent, of the concept, missed beginnings. Due to disturbance by humans and habitat loss, these flamingo eggs would never hatch – they could be seen as missed beginnings. All the more sad as the population of Lesser Flamingos is in decline.


Sometimes beginnings may not be missed but may be difficult. Life may have a beginning but not a happy one. Often animals featured in this column have had a difficult beginning. Tion, a Crossbreed, is only ten months old and is already in the care of Dogs Trust after being found as a stray. Described by Dogs Trust as a giant puppyish boy, he’s still got a lot to learn. He already knows some commands and is eager to learn more. His canine carer says he constantly has the attitude of “What are we going to do now?” Tion is looking for owners who have experience of large breeds. He has been destructive in the past and the Dogs Trust behaviourist will talk to new owners about this. If you’re interested in homing Tion, you can meet him at Dogs Trust, Harvil Rd, Uxbridge UB9 6JW.


Dogs Trust has a new beginning this year. Their hugely popular Fun Day which takes place on June 2 is moving to a new venue - the Middlesex Show Ground, Uxbridge.  I’ll be mentioning this again later but the reason for the early notice is because Dogs Trust needs volunteers to help. If you’re interested, email Sian.Bourn@dogstrust.org.uk.


Meanwhile, back at the Wildlife Photographic Exhibition, I’m haunted by some of the images – both beautiful and disturbing. What they make me realise is, however appallingly some animals are treated by humans (either intentionally or unintentionally), it should never be too late for mistakes to be acknowledged and new compassionate beginnings to start.


Column 8th April 2019


It did seem rather strange there were so many people wearing The Walking Dead tee-shirts in the queue for the Bike Show at the ExCel Centre. I just assumed there was a stronger connection between cyclists and The Walking Dead then I realised. It wasn’t till we’d spent 20 minutes slowly snaking up and down the crush barriers and reached the admission desk, we realised we weren’t in the queue for the Bike Show at all – that was next door. Sometimes it’s easy to make wrong assumptions – and that also applies to people wanting to get a pet.


Blue Cross (bluecross.org.uk) has produced a list of myths, people can mistakenly believe about homing unwanted or abandoned animals. It’s not uncommon for people to think, for example, you won’t get a puppy or a kitten at a rescue centre (not true) or you can’t rehome a dog or cat if you don’t have your own garden (depends on the animal but not necessarily true). People may also think if you get a rescue pet, you don’t know what you are getting. The reality is if you go to a reputable rescue centre, the animal will have been assessed before you take them home. Therefore you could have more information about the pet obtained from a rehoming centre than a pet obtained from another source such as an online website.


Take Apricot, for example, this ginger and white cat came into the care of the rehoming centre, Mayhew, after her owner had more cats and kittens than he could cope with. Although she is only nineteen months old, Apricot has recently had kittens - and this litter may not have been her first. But before being available for homing, Mayhew has health checked and behaviourally assessed Apricot and decided which sort of home would be best for her. She needs a calm home with experienced owners – more details at themayhew.org.


At present, Mayhew are preparing for their first event which is completely dedicated to cats, their Cattery Easter Party. On Sunday April 14 (1pm – 4pm), visitors can spend time with the cats and see kittens in the Kitten Garden. There will be lots to buy and an Easter Egg hunt. Mayhew is at Trenmar Gardens, Kensal Green.


Taking place the day before on Saturday April 13 (11.30am-2.30pm), the RSPCA Southall Cat Adoption Centre is holding an Easter Egg-Cellent Adventure. Activities include egg painting and egg/spoon racing. The centre is at Burket Close, Southall.


Column 15th April 2019


It’s easily done. My friend was recently trapped in her porch for a couple of hours. She went out without her keys, the front door closed and her porch door needed a key to open it. My friend couldn’t get in or out. Being trapped isn’t nice, whether it’s in a porch, a lift or a difficult relationship.


Many people are upset by seeing animals who are trapped. In recent weeks, increasing reports have come to light of trees, bushes and long stretches of hedgerows being covered in netting with birds or other animals (such as hedgehogs) becoming trapped inside or dying after becoming entangled in netting. It appears that in order to circumvent animal protection laws designed to protect birds and their nests, property developers and others have decided to cover trees and hedges with netting to prevent birds nesting there, in the first place. It’s not just hedges that are being covered, videos have circulated of distressed sand martins, who have managed to fly all the way from Africa to Norfolk to breed, being unable to get into the cliff nests they used the previous year because they were covered with netting.


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) highlights the seriousness of this issue and is encouraging people to sign a petition (available at petition.parliament.uk) to make netting hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting a criminal offence.  


Meanwhile, if we see a live wild bird or animal entangled in or trapped behind netting, the RSPCA ask that we call their 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300  1234 999.

The recent results of this year’s RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, show the need to take care of our wildlife and their habitats. The numbers of some birds, such as song thrushes, has declined by 77% since the start of Birdwatch in 1979.


More than once, I’ve been trapped in a pod with a cat at the Southall Cat Adoption Centre (my fault entirely and only briefly). But not today, the glorious Mozart wanted to stay in his inner compartment – he was a bit too shy to join me in the outside part. But, in the inside area, he was such a joy to be with. Mozart’s a big solid older boy who loves being stroked and dribbles slightly in an endearing way. Whoever homes Mozart is in for a treat. You can make friends with him at Southall RSPCA Cat Adoption Centre, Burket Close.


Column 22nd April 2019


As you would expect from an expert broadcaster, Nicky Campbell’s speech was brilliant. We were outside Downing Street on the Global March in support of elephants, rhinos and other animals whose population is in serious decline such as lions and giraffes (giraffe population has declined by 40% in the past 30 years).  Nicky was wondering how people can deliberately kill such beautiful animals, for sport, without feeling shame.


Supported by celebrities such as Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley, this campaign is asking the government to help stop such animal killing by making it illegal for hunting trophies from the killed animals to be allowed into the UK.


The number of animals killed by trophy hunters is staggering. In total, 1.7 million trophies were legally traded worldwide between 2004 and 2014. Around 200,000 of these were from threatened species. Of these 2,500 were brought home by British hunters including hundreds of heads, feet, tails, tusks, hides and horns from some of the world’s most endangered species. Action for Elephants UK, who played a key part in organising the march, is asking the government to ban the import of such trophies and to lead the way in urging other countries to do the same. If you want to know more, see actionforelephantsuk.org.


Although they might not belong to a rare species, the lives of these seven week old rabbits are, nonetheless, still important. Five baby rabbits, together with their mother were handed into the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) rehoming centre as their previous owner could no longer care for them. If you’re thinking of homing one, remember the saying of the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF), “A hutch is not enough”. Rabbits need space to run, jump, dig and stand fully upright on their back legs. They are also highly social creatures and need keeping with at least one other friendly neutered rabbit. But introductions need to be conducted gradually and under supervision. For more details of rabbit care see rabbitwelfare.co.uk or call 0844  324 6090.  If you would like to meet the baby rabbits, they are at the NAWT rehoming centre, Tylers Way, Watford by Pass WD25 8WT.


NAWT (address above) is holding a Family Open Day and Fun Dog Show on Monday May 6 (11am – 4pm) There will be lots of stalls, dog agility, a farmyard petting area and children’s games.


Column 29th April 2019


Leaving the tube train, I came across, at the base of the escalator, a lady with two dogs who was beginning to panic. One dog was laid back about being carried up the escalator and one dog, who was heavy to carry, wasn’t. She was having difficulty carrying both. (Dogs, unless trained as an assistance dog, are not allowed on the escalator themselves, as they can get their fur or skin caught in the moving staircase). Seeing her plight, after discussion, I carried the laid back one up the escalator and she carried the more nervous one.


The good news for tube travellers who have dogs is that Blue Cross have built on Transport for London information to publish a Dog Friendly Tube Map plus guidance on travelling on the tube with your dog. The map shows which stations are dog friendly by having either a lift, steps or step-free access.


If travelling with a dog, Blue Cross advise owners to plan ahead and know what facilities stations have. However, if you find yourself having to pick up your dog to go on an escalator, Blue Cross outline how to do this safely. Their advice also includes how to train your dog to go on the tube, what to do if someone is scared of your dog and how to cope with over-friendly passengers who might overwhelm your dog.

Staff can refuse admission if your dog is misbehaving otherwise dogs can travel free on the London Underground as long as they are kept under control on a lead or in a crate/carrier.  For more details see bluecross.org.uk/underground and content.tfl.gov.uk.


It’s not just dogs that can be heavy to carry, some of us carry baggage or insecurities around with us, from the past, that can be heavy to carry - but baggage can be jettisoned.

For some reason, Xanthe, a pug, who is currently in the care of the Old Windsor branch of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, can be unsure of most situations. Since coming into the care of Battersea in March, she has shown herself to be an inquisitive girl who wants to interact but hasn’t quite got the confidence, yet, to see it through. She is looking for a home with one or more existing calm dogs who can help show her the world isn’t such a scary place. If you’re interested in rehoming Xanthe and helping her become a confident, bold dog, call 01784  494443 or email bow.rehomers@battersea.org.uk.





April 2019

Weekly column Subject Index