Warrington RSPCA centre that looks after neglected cats and dogs fights for survival

Video report by Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah

An RSPCA branch which helps abused and neglected pet dogs and cats is facing closure due to financial pressure.

The Warrington, Halton and St Helens branch is the only one of its kind in the north west. It looks after animals which are at the centre of court cases and isn't open to the public.

The centre off Slutchers Lane is a kind of 'halfway house', where staff are specially trained to help traumatised animals and get them back to full health.

Also, because many of the animals are involved in legal cases, their identity has to be protected. When ITV news visited the site we weren't allowed to film any of the cats there, and only three of the dogs could be filmed.

These dogs include Star, a five month old puppy, who weighed just 3kg when she arrived, but now, weighs a healthy 16kg.

The running costs are around £28,000 a month and although the branch is affiliated with the national RSPCA, it is a separate registered charity.

That means it is responsible for raising its own funds, but staff and the trustees say since the pandemic and with the rising cost of living, the centre is struggling to make ends meet.

Andrew Heyes, the Chairman of Trustees said "We have been extremely fortunate to have had some large legacies left to us and some more modest ones and they have tided us over.

“But that isn’t the case now and we are struggling to get vital funds.”

The centre is due to reach its 40th anniversary next year, so it has now launched an urgent Save our Shelter fundraising appeal, calling on individuals, community groups, businesses and other organisations to help to secure its future.

Animals staying at the centre have access to a cat play room, dog lounge, groom room, exercise paddock, and vets suite, which is visited bi-weekly by a veterinary surgeon.

The average stay for a dog in the rescue’s kennels is 93 days and cats can be boarded for up to 180 days waiting for someone to take them in.

One of the animals the centre has helped in the past includes Albert, a vulnerable cat who the RSPCA staff suspect was born with no eyes.

Albert was scared around people when he first arrived at the centre Credit: RSPCA Warrington, Halton and St Helens branch

Albert was brought into the centre mid- 2021 from a neglectful home where his medical needs had been ignored. He had been severely underfed and poor living conditions were causing him to lose fur.

Albert also had multiple dental issues which prevented him from eating solid food. 

The team at the RSPCA branch say he quickly adjusted to his new environment when he was brought in. Staff were able to train him to follow scents around his pen to find his way around.

He learned how to use a litter tray, play with toys and even climb his cat tree. All the while, he was learning how to trust people again, and getting ready for his new life.

Albert now has his new home with a family experienced with blind cats. 

Albert in his new home Credit: RSPCA Warrington, Halton and St Helens