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Welsh pet food company donates food to animal charity battling to survive coronavirus lockdown

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A Welsh pet food company has donated thousands of pounds worth of dog food to a local rescue centre to help it keep going during the Covid-19 crisis as it struggles to stay afloat during such uncertain times.

Kidwelly-based Burns Pet Nutrition, a natural pet food company that already helps over 40 rescue centres across the UK, is supplying much-needed food donations to South Wales animal charity, Hope Rescue. The family firm, which specialises in producing high quality dog food made up of all-natural ingredients, is providing the centre with three-months’ worth of nutrition to see it through the lockdown period.

Hope Rescue, which operates from a rescue centre in Llanharan and has a charity shop in Pontypridd, provides care to over 800 dogs a year. The charity rescues stray and abandoned dogs in in the region who would otherwise be euthanised, and also supports other local pounds and rescues who are struggling with capacity.

However, the financial fall-out from the current Covid-19 crisis is now putting the future of the charity at risk.

Since the start of the UK-wide lockdown, Hope Rescue has seen its main sources of income come to a halt, having been forced to close its charity shop, boarding kennels, paddock hire and grooming services, as well as cancel upcoming fundraising events and stop all fostering and adoption activity.

The charity is unable to apply for many of the grants made available to other organisations as they are understandably focussing on charities providing immediate Covid-19 relief services and aren’t aimed at the animal welfare sector. It is the latest financial blow for the organisation, coming just weeks after its only charity shop was hit by devastating flooding during Storm Dennis.

As a result, a quarter of its staff have been furloughed and the charity has been left with no revenue, while still having kennels full of dogs that need to be fed and looked after.

To reduce the strain on the charity, Burns will provide Hope Rescue with at least £6,000 worth of its natural dog food over the next three months. The food will help to keep the charity’s costs down and enable it to continue to feed its residents as it operates on a limited scale throughout the outbreak.

Founder and Manager of Hope Rescue, Vanessa Waddon, said: “As a not for profit

organisation, we are entirely dependent on donations and money generated from our charity’s activities. Following the Government lockdown, we lost the majority of our income overnight.

“As an animal welfare charity, we also don’t necessarily quality for all the Government programmes and grant funding that are available. Finances are a huge concern. Every day we are losing £1,000 worth of income, yet we still have a centre to run. There are 75 dogs in our care and the number of strays coming through our doors hasn’t slowed.

“This is a really difficult time for Hope Rescue but we are determined to stay open and continue to do what we can for the most vulnerable dogs in the local community, albeit at a very much reduced capacity. We are immensely thankful to Burns for their support. The provision of food for the dogs in our care has taken a huge weight off our shoulders and will make help make significant financial savings that we desperately need at such a critical time.”

John Burns, Founder of Burns Pet Nutrition added: “As the only dog rescue in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Hope Rescue provides a vital lifeline for the most vulnerable dogs in communities across South Wales. The work that the charity does is inspiring and is really making a difference to the lives of animals and people across the region.

“The impact of coronavirus on animal charities has been unprecedented and we want to do whatever we can to help those struggling during this terrible time.”

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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