Looking back at a decade of Mayhew and how we've made a difference.
"In the wake of Covid, we are reminded that our need to take care of one another is a vital part of
the human spirit. Mayhew has always understood this.
Mayhew’s work providing animal care and veterinary services to the pets of the homeless community and other at risk groups not only keeps the animals safe; it also makes people more resilient."
In 2019, we underpinned this belief with groundbreaking research in which care home residents reported an increase in their quality of life as a result of regularly seeing our TheraPaws dogs. We also worked to help more owners going through a crisis to stay with their animals, and ensured the cats and dogs that needed to come into Mayhew received the best care possible while we found their new homes.
While our shelter has stood for over 130 years and will always be here for dogs and cats in need, we know that rescuing and rehoming alone won’t improve animal welfare. Every year we see social issues and animal welfare issues become increasingly interlinked. People coveting ‘designer’ animals bred in poor conditions, without understanding their long-term expense and needs; the housing crisis and rogue landlords dictating who can and can’t keep their pets; rising costs of living at the same time as austerity; the list goes on and on.
“I was beyond proud that in 2019 we helped more dogs outside our Home than within it, and I almost can’t believe that across the whole 10 years we have kept 10,000 animals and loving owners together. That’s 10,000 human and animal bonds that would have been broken without our help.”
We supported the campaign for a ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales – also known as ‘Lucy’s Law’ – and welcomed the news that it would come into effect on 6 April 2020. Mayhew was honoured that the Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley made the public announcement of the new legislation at our Home in May 2019. We hope that dogs like Cyril (pictured) will now be more protected, as anyone looking to buy a puppy or kitten will have to adopt them from a rehoming shelter or deal directly with a licensed breeder, who in turn must meet certain welfare conditions under their licence agreement.
As well as continuing to visit elderly people in care homes, hospitals, day centres and hospices, in 2019 our teams visited more mental health centres and worked especially closely with children and adolescent services. Using animal-assisted intervention as a complementary part of their care plan provides people of all ages with better tools to cope and thrive.
“Today we get requests from all areas of the NHS asking for our help, and while we can’t work with everybody, we (mostly the dogs!) are making a difference to the lives of the people we visit.”
Sky originally came into Mayhew as a stray. Thankfully, she was microchipped and our AWOs were able to reunite her with her owner. During the conversation on collection, Animal Welfare Officer Tania explained the benefits of having Sky spayed and the risks of not doing so, especially if she were ever to go missing again. Neutering was something Sky’s owner really wanted to do, but wasn’t in the financial position to make possible. Tania offered to help, and a few weeks later collected Sky and brought her to our Community Vet Clinic for neutering, before returning her to her grateful owner later that day.
Jaswinder was homeless and living in St Mungo’s supported accommodation when he realised he needed help. Unable to afford to pay for his beloved husky Twilight’s care, and with no friends or family to turn to, he was in a desperate situation. Jaswinder did a lot of research on the internet for someone to take care of Twilight, which is where he found out about Mayhew’s Pet Refuge programme. The stars aligned when shortly after this our Animal Welfare Officers visited his accommodation as part of their homeless outreach work. They discussed the programme, then a few weeks later in late 2019 we collected Twilight, who stayed in our kennels for four weeks while Jaswinder got the help he needed.
“[Mayhew] looking after Twilight was basically a lifesaver. You really have saved my life. And not only you; Twilight has.”
We have seen a big increase in dogs being given up because of issues related to a landlord or housing agreement. A big part of our job at Mayhew is to keep on top of these changes to society and human behaviours, because they directly affect cats and dogs.
For example, we worked with Brent council to adapt their pet policies for tenants. And when we noticed a steady decrease in unwanted dog calls, we realised that it was linked to people paying more money than ever for puppies and then wanting to reclaim some of that money by selling the pet online when it didn’t work out.
Of course, we often have no choice but to take cats and dogs in immediately and look after them for as long as it takes until they are ready to find new homes. For these animals, our expert and caring teams work hard to ensure their time at Mayhew is as stress-free and supported as possible.
In 2019, we completed a rather mammoth task – replacing and improving our main kennel block, as well as the animal intake room and Animal Welfare team working area. Our refurbished kennels provide a safer and more fit for purpose environment for our dogs and staff. They have more natural light, more personal space and even better enrichment, from TVs and radios to mimic the home environment, to essential oil diffusers.
Our Animal Welfare Officers bring in 96% of Mayhew’s felines. Many of them are abandoned or lost and become strays. Most will require medical care and attention, and we know they will need the love, care and expertise of our Cattery team for weeks or months at a time.
When loving (and lovable!) stray Explorer came to Mayhew, our vets noticed one of his pupils was larger than the other – a condition called anisocoria. As we monitored Explorer, we saw significant ongoing changes in the left eye. Tests revealed that his sight was starting to deteriorate and that he had unusually high levels of calcium in his blood. Explorer was suffering from idiopathic lymphonodular uveitis – a painful, inflammatory ocular disease that can eventually lead to blindness. We had to act fast, and our vets decided to perform a surgery to remove the left eye. He quickly recovered, and was immediately back to his old tricks, charming our vet nurses and Cattery team into cuddling him at every opportunity, before finding his forever home.
“We have helped thousands of animals and their owners over the last decade and I am so proud to be part of an organisation that cares about every individual.”
Mayhew works to build veterinary skills overseas and supports vets to pass on their learning in their home countries.
Although we’ve only been a registered NGO in Georgia since 2018, this year we managed to spay over 700 animals. This is a great number, especially if you think of how many offspring those dogs could have had. We have been working to expand a little and will start 2020 with two more clinics in Tbilisi involved with Mayhew Georgia doing our Trap, Vaccinate, Neuter, Return project. We also had a very important trip to visit Anaklia, an area towards the seaside, which has led to us organising our first spay and neuter pilot outside of Tbilisi, which will take place in 2020.
“Training other vets is really important. To be working properly with high standards is great, but there’s a limit to the number of things you can do as you are alone. Training another vet and sharing your knowledge is doubling the amount of the proper work that you can do!”
Following on from two successful years of Mayhew Afghanistan delivering a mass canine rabies vaccination programme, we were proud to open our Animal Birth Control (ABC) Centre in summer 2019, which will now deliver a spay and neuter programme for Kabul to further address – in a humane way – the number of free-roaming dogs on the city’s streets. The centre has the capacity to neuter around 200 dogs per week.
Volunteers are the backbone of Mayhew. We now have 15 different volunteer roles and welcomed 32 new recruits in 2019, ending the year with 352 in total.
New initiatives for employees included establishing an environmental group, ‘Green Paws’, and appointing Mental Health Champions. Green Paws encourages all employees to highlight areas where Mayhew can improve our impact on the environment and enables those who have a passion for these issues to have their voices heard, discussed and, where possible, implemented. Working in animal welfare is very rewarding, however Mayhew understands the demands the sector can have on our employees, so our Mental Health Champions provide opportunities to talk, or simply offer a space where they can enjoy a moment of escapism.
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