I got into a bit of a twitter conversation the other day with a small animal rescue charity called “Little Paws” and discovered that two of our local residents are helping out by fostering and fundraising, I was intrigued with what you do and wanted to share it all with you all. So, welcome, Lindsay and Jenna!
What is Little Paws and how did it start?
Little Paws Rescue is a small, non-profit, home-run rescue (ie we don’t have a central rescue centre) based in Leeds and Bradford. We take in and care for unwanted, mistreated and neglected small animals and cats. Once sure the animals are in good health, we rehome them to carefully checked, loving homes. We rely on donations and fundraising to keep the rescue going, and are run entirely by a small team of unpaid volunteers and fosterers across West Yorkshire.
Lindsay: Little Paws Rescue was founded in January 2012 by Laura (who lives in Baildon, Bradford) and I joined as the first fosterer in March 2012 (and have since been promoted to Trustee). We are not currently a registered charity as this requires a minimum income of £5000 per year, which we are no where close to achieving at this time. Laura and I both work full time so the rescue is run around our jobs and other commitments. We have a small team of wonderful volunteers who help us out as and when they can. We only put animals to sleep at the advice of our trusted vets.
What do you do for little paws and how did you get involved?
Jenna: My role within Little Paws is as a contact point for local people wishing to donate. I put up posters in the Kirkstall area, and have also used Twitter to raise awareness. If people who wish to donate are unable to drop their items off at my home in Kirkstall, I can go out and collect them – including surrounding areas such as Headingley, Armley, Leeds centre etc. I then drop off the donated items with the ladies who run the rescue. I got involved with Little Paws after wishing to do something to help animals. I have always loved animals – I grew up with my Mum rescuing cats left, right and centre (she has five at the moment!) and spent many years wanting to be a vet (until I found out that this would require taking chemistry at A-level!). Upon finishing university and moving to Kirkstall, I set out finding local animal rescue centres. I contacted Little Paws on their facebook page, and they appeared to be incredibly grateful and enthusiastic when I asked if they had any need for volunteers.
Lindsay: Laura previously volunteered for Feral Cat Welfare, another Leeds based charity, before starting up Little Paws. Through FCW, she knew a friend of mine who put us in touch with each other as I wanted to get into volunteering as well. It started off with fostering one guinea pig and one mouse and grew from there. Since then, I have fostered a total of 24 mice, one Guinea pig and a cat over 2.5 years. I also run our website, help with emails and the Facebook page, make and distribute promotional material, collect donations and help run events!
Who are you fostering at the moment?
Jenna: Unfortunately I am not able to foster any animals at the minute due to living in rented accomodation which does not allow pets. Once I own my own house, however, one of the first things I will be doing will be offering to become a rescue animal foster carer.
Lindsay: At the moment I have a 17 year old cat called Ziggy who had to be given up by her previous family for financial reasons – they were devastated at having to let her go but relieved that she didn’t have to be put to sleep as had been suggested to them by their vet and some other organisations (who we will let remain nameless). As she is so old and is black, they knew she would be almost impossible to rehome and did not want the burden of keeping her until she passed away. We decided we did not agree with putting a very healthy, spritely and affectionate girl to sleep so we decided to take her – even though I previously did not foster cats we had no where else for her to go. We hope someone will look past her age and colour and offer her a retirement home but sadly she doesn’t get on well with other cats which excludes most cat lovers who would be willing to have her! She will stay with me until she finds a home or passes away.
I also have Pete the mouse, who is approx two years old. He came as part of a large rescue of approximately 80 mice. A man had a small 1ft square tank (for reference, the minimum tank size we would rehome to would be 2ft x 1ft for up to a trio of mice) with 2 adult males, 8 adult females and a huge pile of babies in. He was allowing them to breed and selling the babies for snake food. He fed them only stale bread (not an ideal diet for any animal!) and never cleaned them out, just added new bedding. This resulted in a lot of inbred, not very healthy little mice! When his partner became pregnant she insisted he got rid of them and we convinced him to give them over to us. We couldn’t separate the babies properly as we didn’t know who belonged to which mum so we had to take the males out as they matured and leave the females together until even the youngest were weaned. We have rehomed all but two of the mice, Pete and Henry. As they are both elderly now, they will retire with us. In spite of the genetic odds being stacked against them and their poor start in life, the majority did live long and happy lives although sadly some did have to be put to sleep on the advice of our vet. We always seem to find new mice needing help though so we usually have younger mice available for adoption.
What do you do when you are not looking after the little paws?
Lindsay: I work full time as a senior scientist at Avacta Life Sciences in Wetherby, I joined the company after finishing my PhD at the University of Leeds in 2013 so I’ve lived in Kirkstall for 5 years now. I love walks in the nature reserve and around the Abbey, frequenting the local eateries (Sheesh Mahal and Viva Cuba are my favourites – yum!) and telling my southerner friends how infinitely superior the North is (I’m originally from Belfast, but Leeds has become my home away from home). I also love rock climbing, which Leeds is fantastic for with great indoor facilities and easy access to the Dales and Peaks, hiking, reading, playing computer games and looking after my own spoiled furbabies – two Egyptian spiny mice called Khalid and Cleopatra and a bitey Dwarf Hamster called Belle. I’ve also previously owned 4 fancy mice and another dwarf hamster – all rescued of course!
Jenna: Outside of Little Paws, I am fairly new to Kirkstall and so am still enjoying exploring the local area and meeting new people. I am a qualified social worker, looking for my first role since graduating from university in July. The area of social work I am most passionate about is adoption and fostering, so volunteering for an animal rescue centre on the side is a perfect fit.
What does little paws need and what can local people do to help?
Lindsay: Lots of things! We accept donations of pet supplies as detailed above (we will sell any we don’t need/can’t use to raise funds), good quality books, dvds, clothes, tombola style prizes (unopened bottles of alcohol, chocolates, gift sets, perfumes etc) and we can normally arrange collection if the person can’t drop off. We always need relaible fosterers (must own their own home or have written permission to have animals from landlord, ideally have access to transport and be able to separate all foster animals from each other and any household pets to avoid the spread of disease or bonds forming which would be broken for rehoming). People like Jenna who are unable to foster can also contribute massively – leafleting, sharing information about us and our animals online, collecting donations, helping run our stalls at events, fundraising on our behalf etc are all so valuable to us and ewually important to fostering.
Jenna: Little Paws desperately needs funds and animal foster carers. Unfortunately there are vast numbers of animals in need in the Leeds and Bradford area – mostly cats and kittens – so much so that rescue centres are struggling to keep up. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, please contact Little Paws via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This e-mail address can also be used to donate money via PayPal.
Alternatively, please get in touch if you have any unwanted items you could donate that can either be used by the animals, or sold on or used as a raffle prize to help us raise funds. This could be pretty much anything that is in good condition, including furniture, DVDs, bottles of alcohol, perfume, handmade art and craft goods. Jenna can be contacted on email@example.com.
Thanks very much to Jenna and Lindsay, I’ll be donating some stuff to help them raise some funds, so my next question is…. come on Kirkstall, can you help Little Paws?
The Little Paws official website is www.littlepawsrescue.org.uk which has loads of information on for people about our previous rescue stories, available animals and how to contact/volunteer and of course we’re on Facebook (www.facebook.com/littlepawsrescueleeds) and Twitter (twitter.com/LittlePawsLeeds) too! Take a look at the items for sale on our eBay page: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/littlepawsrescueleeds/m.html?item=320922179171&sspagename=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649&_trksid=p4340.l2562