Scottish SPCA expand services across Scotland in response to animal welfare crisis

An SSPCA animal rescue officer

THE SCOTTISH SPCA has today set out plans to rescue more animals than ever, and to support greater numbers of pets and their owners, across the whole of Scotland. 

The plans, which will significantly increase the charity’s capacity to foster, rehome and engage with and respond to local community needs, will be put in to action over the next few months. 

The planned changes mean by the end of 2024, the Scottish SPCA will:

  • Increase its adoption rate by 15%, finding forever homes for hundreds more animals 
  • Triple the number of foster families it works with, from 200 to 600 
  • Add veterinary support to its Pet Aid service, which will improve access to veterinary care for pet owners who are struggling financially
  • Double the number of community partners we deliver pet supplies to, from 51 to 100, across Scotland

The Scottish SPCA is also teaming up with the Citizens Advice network in Scotland to make it easier for people to get animal welfare support when they really need it. Both charities will improve access to one another’s services, with the goal of intervening early to prevent animal and human welfare issues from escalating. 

David Hilferty, Director of Impact at Citizens Advice Scotland said: “We’re delighted to explore partnership and working opportunities with the SSPCA. The Citizens Advice network is on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis with advisers delivering life changing results for people. Analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland found that over 137,000 people had to give up their pet because of increased costs and reduced incomes. That’s an absolutely heart-breaking decision no owner will take lightly, particularly families with children or pensioners for whom their pet is their best friend and a source of comfort against loneliness and isolation.  We want to ensure people who find themselves in this difficult position are getting all the money they are entitled to and paying the lowest possible costs so they aren’t forced to say goodbye to animals who are more family members than pets.”

The Scottish SPCA is dealing with increasingly complex animal welfare cases, such as veterinary and behavioural challenges in pets. These challenges, alongside rising demand for its services, are fuelled in-part by the cost-of-living crisis affecting how people are able to care for their pets.  Following the launch of its Pet Aid service in 2022, the charity’s planned community outreach initiatives will grow through collaborative partnerships with a range of charities and other agencies throughout Scotland. 

As part of the move to focus more services in the heart of communities, two of the Scottish SPCA’s smaller animal rescue centres, in Ayrshire and Caithness, will close by the end of October 2023. All of the colleagues and volunteers who work at these rehoming centres have been offered redeployment into community outreach based roles, meaning there will be no compulsory redundancies attached to the centre closures. All animals in the two centres will either be fostered, rehomed or moved to other Scottish SPCA sites.

Scottish SPCA chief executive, Kirsteen Campbell, said: “Animal rescue goes far beyond the walls of a rescue centre, and as more and more people turn to us for help to look after the animals in their lives, we need to adapt the way we do things to meet and get ahead of that growing demand. 

“We’re delivering services straight to communities where we are most needed and where we can really make an impact; building on what we already do brilliantly, forging valuable partnerships with organisations such as Citizens Advice Scotland in order to address the complex needs in our communities by getting to the heart of issues affecting animals and people.  

“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 rehome 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. We will continue to operate other centres in key sites across Scotland as well as our world-leading wildlife hospital offering first-class treatment and support to wild animals who need it most.”

The latest stories