Rescue centre's uphill battle to provide sanctuary for animals
IT first opened as a boarding kennel for dogs in the Borders. However, after being approached by police, it soon began taking in the odd stray.
Now it cares for all kinds of animals, both domestic pets and wildlife, from cute kittens and adorable dogs to orphaned otters and beautiful buzzards, and provides them with temporary shelter until they are ready to be rehomed or released.
The Arthurshiel Rescue Centre near St Boswells, which is now an official charity and relies on public donations to survive, celebrates its 21st birthday in December.
And, as she prepares to blow out the candles on the cake, owner Shona Middlemas revealed her one wish would be to find all the animals a new home.
Speaking to the Border Telegraph this week, Shona said: "We are being inundated with calls to help care for injured or abandoned animals from all over the Borders.
"We've got more cats this year than we've ever had - there seems to be an abundance of them just now - and we have a waiting list so that as soon as one leaves the pen is cleaned out and another one moves in.
"We've also got a wee tawny owl here at the moment which has a bad eye that we are nursing back to health."
And she added: "We have 18 dogs, including some older ones that people don't seem to want, and although not all are ready for rehoming yet, they soon will be."
Among the cats are a mother and her three one-week old kittens. And three new strays arrived on Saturday.
Shona, who runs the centre with her husband Tom, revealed they are building a new cattery at the centre to house them all.
However, she explained she had to climb the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, near Fort William, to raise much-needed cash for the project.
Shona said: "We were going to do the Three Peaks challenge but that was going to be too much for us so we decided that we would try bagging seven munros at Glenshiel in one day and then the next day climbed Ben Nevis.
"It was lovely and very hot, I think we had the best day of the year; and I am delighted to say we managed it and we raised just over £2000 in the process. We are now building new cat pens at the centre for the stray cats."
The charity is now raising money to build a new bigger flight cage for birds to recover. And it has appealed to Border Telegraph readers for their support.
Shona said: "We rely on donations to survive and occasionally get nice cheques through the post."
"At the moment we are trying to get money together to build a big flight (cage), so that the buzzards or kestrels that come in weak or injured can build their wing muscles up before so they can recover faster. That's the only thing we're lacking at the moment."
But she added: "If someone donated £500 it could be up tomorrow. I'll not be climbing any more hills for a while."
The centre, which has also launched a new calendar for 2013 to raise vital funds, has just released a kestrel found injured on the road near Coldstream, along with a buzzard which, according to Shona, doesn't appear to want to leave.
Other visitors include a fox, a badger and a baby hedgehog which loves dog food and was found in Selkirk on Thursday night. However, not all the waggy tails have a happy ending.
Shona reported a rescued orphaned otter died last week - just days after its parents were killed at Torwoodlee near Galashiels. She had been bottle feeding the semi-aquatic mammal back to health.
And a deer found injured on the road near Clovenfords died just seconds before she could reach the vets.
Shona said: "They are coming from all over the Borders. The wet weather has been a big contributory factor. We haven't seen any ducks this year but the rivers have been so high that ducklings don't really stand a chance.
"We are still finding people who are taking on a puppy for the summer holidays without realising the responsibilities involved and then when the kids go back to school no-one is there to look after it."
And she added: "We are also finding that more private landlords are beginning to enforce bans on pets in their properties which has left many homeless."
One animal still looking for a new home is a rabbit named Noel. He is one of the centre's oldest residents having first arrived more than a year ago. Shona said: "We dont understand why he hasn't been snapped up. Noel has been castrated so can live with a female bunny." But she added: "I'd like to find a home for all these animals."
If you are interested in rehoming or sponsoring an animal, contact Arthurshiel on 07581878393, from Tuesday to Saturday, between 10am and 3.30pm.
Alternatively, log on to the centre's website - http://arthurshielrescuecentre.co.uk/
Shona revealed donations were also welcomed. She said: "Every little helps. Even my aunty up in Newbirdge, who has never had an animal, buys me dog food in her shopping every week and then transports it down once a month."
And she added: "We really do appreciate all the support we receive."
Arthurshiel calendars are available to buy, priced £6, along with a range of Christmas cards, featuring by calling 01835 822468.
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 17 Aug 12
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