By Democrat reporter
The Scottish SPCA is closing two of its 10 rescue centres – months after it warned of an animal welfare crisis.
The charity said it was seeing increasingly complex animal welfare cases, with people unable to care for pets due to the cost of living.
The facilities in Caithness and Ayr, which opened in 1989 and 1994, cared for a total of 276 animals last year.
Staff have been offered redeployment and animals will be fostered, re-homed or moved to other sites.
The centres will close by the end of October.
Seven other rescue sites across Scotland, including Milton Animal Home in Dumbarton, will continue to operate as well as the charity’s wildlife hospital in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire.
SSPCA chief executive Kirsteen Campbell said animal rescue “goes far beyond” the rescue centres and that the charity had to adapt to cope with demand.
Dumbarton MSP Dame Jackie Baillie on a recent visit to the SSPCA centre at Dumbarton.
The Caithness facility has eight dog kennels, six cattery spaces, four rabbit hutches and a small animal room.
It also cleans oiled birds and domestic animals and had space for wild animals due to be transported for medical treatment.
The Ayr centre cares for a wide range of animals including dogs, rabbits, snakes, birds, fish, ferrets and other small creatures. However, the SSPCA said it is very small, catering for just nine dogs at a time, with limited capacity for holding and rehabilitating animals.
The Scottish SPCA said recent welfare cases had involved veterinary and behavioural challenges in pets.
It said these challenges, as well as rising demand for services, had been fuelled partly by the cost-of-living crisis, which had affected how people were able to care for their pets.
Last month, the charity said vet and food bills were a playing a major role in owners having to give up their pets as it warned of an animal welfare crisis in Scotland.
Arrivals at its rescue centres have increased by 25% to 3,518 in the first six months of 2023.
Community outreach plans
The charity announced the closures of two rescue centres as it set out plans to expand its community outreach by collaborating with other charities and agencies across Scotland.
It aims to increase its adoption rate and increase the number of foster families it works with from 200 to 600.
It also wants to help pet owners who are struggling financially with veterinary bills through its Pet Aid service.
Pet Aid launched in 2022 and helps pet owners provide basic food supplies for animals through a network of food banks across most of Scotland.
Lastly, the Scottish SPCA wants to increase the number of community partners it delivers pet supplies to from 51 to 100.
Ms Campbell said the charity was delivering services to communities where they were most needed.
She said: “Improving our capacity to deliver community outreach means more people will be aware of the services and support available to them, which should reduce the chances of them ever being at serious risk of compromising an animal’s welfare.
“At the same time, improving our capacity to re-home and foster at speed will improve the experience animals have in our care, which is ultimately the best thing for their welfare.
“Our centres will always play a vital role in our approach to animal rescue and securing better animal welfare.”