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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 6th May 2019


Sometimes you have to brace yourself and I’m braced at the moment. I’m in the impressive Portcullis House opposite Big Ben attending a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG), chaired by television vet, Marc Abraham. This group was set up to focus on the welfare of the UK’s dogs and their owners – there’s a lot of policy makers here. The topics this week are dog fighting, animal cruelty and links to domestic violence. We’ve been told there could be graphic content, hence the reason I’ve steeled myself ready for what I hear.


But before we get to the main part of the meeting, there are updates about other dog-related issues. The first speaker is the legendary actor (including from Downton Abbey fame), Peter Egan. He told us how he had recently spent time watching families choose which dog they wanted when surrounded by lots of dogs to choose from.

Except they weren’t choosing which dog they wanted to take home as a family pet, Peter was in an Indonesian dog-meat market and families were choosing which dog they wanted to eat. I’m not going to give details but he describes this trade as horrific.

One of the benefits of modern technology is that, if you know, in your gut, something is abhorrent, you can usually do something to help stop it without having to know all the awful details which you won’t be able to forget.  If you want to join celebrities such as Peter Egan and Ricky Gervais who want to stop this suffering and slaughter (involving at least 13,450 dogs/month), go to dogmeatfreeindonesia.org where, by letter and petition, you can add your support to ending the trade and, in the process, find out as little or as much as you want to know.


You certainly don’t have to brace yourself for a visit to Sizzles at Dogs Trust. She’s the sort of dog that makes your heart melt. This lively Lurcher has been waiting for a home since February. Sizzles loves people and already knows several commands. At the moment she is reactive to dogs but Dogs Trust are happy with the progress she is making. If you would like to meet Sizzles, she is waiting at their rehoming centre, Harvil Road, Uxbridge.


Don’t forget Dog Trust’s Fun Day takes place on Sunday June 2 (11am-4pm) at the Middlesex Show Ground, Park Road, Uxbridge UB8 1ES. Volunteers are still needed, if you can help call 01895  453951 or email sian.bourn@dogstrust.org.uk.


Column 13th May 2019


I’ve just witnessed a serious crime but I’ve been told not to say anything. It happened during my visit to The Mousetrap at St Martin’s Theatre in London but because I now know what happened and have to keep the secret, my lips are sealed. But sometimes we can’t help but talk about things we witness.


The recent UN Report on Biodiversity emphasises how nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history with around 1 million plant and animal species being threatened with extinction, many within decades. As residents of the planet, we are witnesses to this serious situation and need to avoid this being kept a secret and, therefore, becoming accomplices to its destruction. The Report says it’s not too late to make a difference but only if we start now at every level from local to global. Apart from making sure our lips aren’t sealed, we can each play our part in treating the planet and nature with more respect.  Organisations such as the Wildlife Trust, which works to protect wildlife and restore wild places, are developing ways to help us do this.


In June, they are challenging us to do something wild every day and are providing ideas to get us started. These include activities such as thinking before we buy, making a bird feeder, creating space for nature in our neighbourhood,  planting a mini-meadow and creating a wildlife pond. For more ideas from their 30 days wild programme, see wildlifetrusts.org.


If we need help finding out how to be more wildlife friendly in the garden, the Wildlife Gardening Forum and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust are organising a Wildlife Gardener’s Day on Saturday May 18 where there will be talks, walks and workshops. Topics include “Creating Ponds in your Garden”, “Container Gardening for Wildlife” and “Bumblebees in the Garden”. The cost is £25 and places must be booked in advance. It takes place at the London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes. For details see wwt.org.uk.


Once settled into his new home, Timmy would like to see some wildlife in his garden. He’s had an eventful few months but is now looking for a stable new home. He’s an affectionate boy who would benefit from living with someone who has had cats before and is good at understanding signals of when they are becoming a bit stressed. If you would like to meet Timmy, he’s waiting at the animal rehoming centre, Mayhew, Kensal Green, see themayhew.org.


Column 20th May 2019


There’s never been a caravan like it. Shelves and straw inside, door shut but caravan window wide open leading into a spacious outside enclosure. This is where the ASBO Boys are housed. I’m at The Retreat Animal Rescue Sanctuary and the ASBO Boys are cockerels who have a history of anti-social behaviour such as kicking visitors, bullying the ducks, cheating on the hens and general bad manners. Other cockerels are strutting around freely but not the ASBO Boys – these cockerels only roam freely when the sanctuary is closed to the public otherwise they spend their time enjoying their bespoke caravan and garden.


As soon as you arrive, you know you are somewhere special. Ducks, geese and turkeys waddle down the path to meet you, inspecting the puddles as they go while a family of rescued pigs discreetly note your arrival. It’s a while since I touched a pig but I hadn’t forgotten the wiry feel of their coarse coats.


There are over 1000 animals at the centre including 200 pigs and 60 horses. Animals arrive here from a variety of backgrounds including cows saved from slaughter, unwanted sheep, ferrets, ex-racehorses, turkeys who have escaped the dinner table, injured wildlife that can’t be released and ex-petting farm goats (who eat everything except what the Sanctuary’s founder, Billy, wants them to eat).


In some fields, you can go in and join the animals. As soon as I opened the gate to the field for animals needing special care, three sheep came over to greet me. Also grazing in the field with them was Lara, a cow unwanted after being born with no left hind hoof.


And, we haven’t mentioned the cats. Over twenty cats live at the sanctuary, a big black fluffy one momentarily stopped what he was doing to look at me but quickly lost interest – there was more exciting stuff for him to do.


Some, but not all, of the animals are available for rehoming but the centre does have a buddy system whereby if you sponsor an animal you receive updates on the animal and invitations to visit the centre and spend quality time with the animal.


Of course, being in the open air makes you hungry and there’s a fabulous vegan café where the well-behaved cockerels keep you company. The Retreat Animal Rescue Centre is at High Halden, Kent TN26 3LJ. More details including opening hours at retreatanimalrescue.org.uk. They also have glamping lodges so you can really get away for the weekend.


Column 27th May 2019


Matthew and Gilbert were born on a grubby recycling sack. Their mother, Marilla, was only eight months old herself when she gave birth, with no shelter, on April 12. Five kittens were born but two did not survive the night.


Marilla had become homeless after being left behind, pregnant, when her owners moved house. Fortunately, a concerned neighbour contacted Hounslow Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) who took them into care the following day. It was immediately clear Marilla, still a kitten herself, had little idea what to do with her babies and didn’t have enough milk.

After being transferred to a vets for a health check, Marilla’s family of three boys, Matthew, Cuthbert and Gilbert were taken to a loving HAWS foster home on April 18.


Initially, Marilla just about coped with her babies. Matthew and Cuthbert gained weight but, in the rugby scrum of feeding time, tiny Gilbert often failed to latch on. He seemed to forget how to suckle and needed support syringe feeding from his foster carer.


By the time the kittens were four weeks old, Marilla had become bored with Motherhood. When the kittens tried to latch on, she pushed them away.  Her milk dried up. Still a kitten herself, she wanted to play and started to treat her kittens as toys. Cuthbert, the boldest one, would emerge from his sleep pod to explore and Mum, being bigger wanted to play too and safety became an issue. So it was decided that, having brought up her little family as best she could, Marilla should be given the opportunity to reclaim her lost kittenhood and was taken to stay in a neighbour’s home where she would have no responsibilities and could be a kitten again herself.


So that is how HAWS foster carer is currently syringe feeding Marilla’s three gorgeous boys and starting to wean them. Gilbert is still small for his age but is growing. He’s gained 20 grams today. Cuthbert and Matthew love coming onto the foster carer’s lap to guzzle down food. Leftovers are put in a dish to help them learn to lap and last night, May 19, for the first time, the dishes were clean.


If you can home lovely Marilla or her kittens, see haws-animals.org.uk or call 020  8560 5443.  Cuthbert can be homed on his own but Matthew and Gilbert need to be homed together.


Next week, I will follow up with a reminder of where to get free and low-cost neutering.



May 2019

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