Have you ever met a rabbit who thinks she’s a chicken? John and I did at the weekend. This rabbit spent her life with chickens and was not socialised by her previous owners. So when PAWs Animal Sanctuary in Findon, West Sussex rescued her, she was unable to settle with other rabbits and soon became affectionately know as Mrs Grumpy! This big bundle of fuzz is now well cared for and lives happily with 2 tortoises and a cat. Her name is Fluffy and she has long soft downy ears and fur so thick and lush that the tortoises snuggle up to her at night for warmth and comfort.
PAWs has been rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals for the past 30 years and is a small locally-based charity run by Stacey and Sheila in their back garden. John and I met Stacey on our visit and she welcomed us in and showed us round, telling us about the animals she is currently caring for. Some of them are permanent residents, like Fluffy who needs special care and patience, and some of them are looking for new homes. Basil the black cat was rescued from the house where he lived when his owners moved out and left him behind. Then there’s Harry the long-haired black and white cat with a black beard and half a moustache. There was a number of cats with amusing facial markings and I must admit I felt a little jealous. I reckon I’d look good with a white handlebar or a Fu Manchu!
Now, you know how curious cats are. Abbey the old tabby cat you can see sitting on my camera bag was sniffing round my equipment the whole time we were there. Her tongue hangs out because her jaw is misshapen due to wearing a metal brace in her mouth for 5 years following a road traffic accident. The brace should have been worn for only 6 weeks but the owners never took her back to the vet to have it removed. When this friendly little pussy-cat was rescued, she had dreadful ulcers and infections in her mouth, but PAWs fixed her up and she is now living a comfortable life. I thought she was being a nosey parker but it turns out John had hidden some treats in one of the compartments in the camera bag, so me and Abbey hooked them out with our paws and enjoyed a snack together in the sunshine.
Abbey has lots of company at PAWs including a donkey, guinea-pigs, a peacock and a clutch of chickens. The chickens spend their days clucking and pecking around the garden and are tucked up safely into bed at night. If you pop over to PAWs on a Sunday afternoon, you can buy some of their scrumptious free-range eggs, drop a couple of quid in the collection tin and sit on the bench in the garden, watching the animals and talking to the volunteers who are busy grooming, feeding, medicating, exercising and bonding with the animals.
Like every animal charity, PAWs is always full and has a waiting list of animals to come in. But PAWs provide a unique service to the animals of Sussex because they rescue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However they can only go out in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to rescue an animal in distress if they have the resources to care for it. They don’t have secured funding or a national infra-structure to support them so public donations and support from local businesses are essential. All proceeds from donating go directly towards the upkeep of the animals and enable PAWs to meet the increasing costs associated with caring for animals. They have also launched an appeal to raise money for a desperately needed bigger and better animal sanctuary so good luck to them for that project. Thank you PAWs for the dedication and hard work and sacrifices you make every day to look after animals in need.