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Animal sanctuaries are feeling the pinch

PUBLISHED: 17:24 28 February 2011

John Watson with rescued shire horse Jack at Hillside animal sanctuary at Frettenham. Jack is 19.3HH and eats a bale of hay a day.; Photo: Bill Smith

John Watson with rescued shire horse Jack at Hillside animal sanctuary at Frettenham. Jack is 19.3HH and eats a bale of hay a day.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

Bosses of a Norfolk animal sanctuary say they are facing a desperate financial crisis with the cost of materials continuing to rise and fewer donations being given in.

Hillside Animal Sanctuary, which has bases in Frettenham and West Runton, has issued a plea to its supporters after revealing they are three months behind in paying some suppliers and their vets bills.

Bosses at the sanctuary, which cares for around 400 horses, ponies and donkeys, 500 sheep and goats, and 135 cattle, blame the increase in hay prices over the winter, which they say has now doubled from £3.50 a bale to around £7, and has had a knock-on effect on the other services they provide – such as veterinary care.

The letter issued to supporters from founder of the sanctuary, Wendy Valentine, states; “Crisis point was reached when we received a letter from our vets suggesting that, to save us from going further in the red, they put to sleep any animals needing critical care instead of treating them. As you can imagine, this is unthinkable.”

Ms Valentine says the problem is also not helped by the fact that although they do have legacies impending, bequests often rely on the sale of property, which at the moment is slow, so those funds are not immediately available.

John Watson, who works at the sanctuary, said: “It has got to the point where we are three months behind with paying suppliers and vets, and we have had a letter from the vets saying they will still come and do dire emergencies but cannot do other things, so some of the animals may have to be put down, but we cannot allow that to happen, that is why we have put the letter out to supporters.”

The plight suffered by Hillside seems to be reverberating across the county with other animal sanctuaries saying they too are suffering with donations rapidly disappearing offset by an increase in the number of animals needing to be looked after and in the cost of produce to feed and look after them.

To find out more and how other sanctuaries are faring, see tomorrow’s Evening News.

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