WITH the brand new-look Blue Cross in Bromsgrove due to officially open in the coming weeks, following a £1.9million revamp, The Standard’s Tristan Harris went down to the new centre last Thursday (August 27) for a sneak preview of what it will have to offer.
THE BLUE Cross in Bromsgrove has always been there for local pets and over the years must have homed thousands.
But, the premises at Golden Cross Lane, Catshill, was becoming overburdened and, no one would deny, was struggling to cope with the demand for its services.
The new-look centre, following an extensive £1.9million revamp, has seen a multitude of improvements that will equip the charity to deal with the ever-increasing challenges it will face.
An impressive new 15-pen cattery building will take capacity from nine to 24 and there is now space for seven kittens, whereas before there was only room for three.
Each of the new pens has a spacious run where the cats can stretch out, whilst getting used to hearing everyday noises, and a catflap leading to a centrally heated room with comfortable bedding.
The cattery also has its own veterinary room and kitchen which will save staff and volunteers time when they prepare food for the furry residents.
The kitten area also has its own kitchen which is even more important as it will prevent any cross infection (young cats are susceptible to bugs).
The improvements to the kennels are similar – before they used to face each other which could cause undue stress to dogs residing there.
Centre Manager Neil Edwards said: “Now, because the pens are not facing each other, we are hoping the dogs will be more chilled and less stressed and find homes easier.
“We don’t want them here longer than is necessary – we want them to find homes,” he added.
Like the cats, they also have a spacious run and a door through to a warm room away from it all.
The capacity for the number of dogs the charity can accommodate, taking into account the new kennels and with the former ones being used as an admissions block, has increased from 20 to 44. There are also puppy-specific pens which were not there before. As with the cattery, the kennels also have their own vets room and kitchen. Unlike the cattery (we all know moggies are not that keen on water), the kennels also have shower areas for hound-washing.
Last year, the Bromsgrove Blue Cross had 340 dogs and 300 cats through its doors and, with that potentially increasing this year, the centre should be ready for whatever challenges come its way.
As well as homeless animals, the Blue Cross also has injuries and illness to deal with and the Bromsgrove centre has its own veterinary clinic.
In association with Townsend Vets, as well as regular appointments, the service also offers two sessions a week for people who are unable to afford treatment for their pets, such as those who have been made unemployed or who are on other benefits. The charity is also hoping the improvements to the vet areas will help it extend its catchment / coverage area to Rubery and Droitwich.
The new spacious reception area provides a nice open waiting room for those cats and dogs about to see the vet. It ensures they are less stressed when they are ready to go in for their appointment.
With regard to treatment, another addition to the Blue Cross in Bromsgrove is a brand new operating theatre. Vets from Townsend can come to the animals and perform the procedures, rather than the animals having to go on car or van journeys which adds to the tension and fear of having surgery.
Another change with the reception has seen several computer screens introduced so potential owners can view the cats and dogs residing at the centre online. Staff found taking people around all the pens regularly used to stress out the animals and they would not necessarily be seen in their best light when they came to meet potential suitors in their bids for a new home.
At the Blue Cross, they also take details from would-be pet owners to find out what kind of animal they are looking for and what their lifestyles are like (number of people living in each house, amount of hours they work etc). They then, similar to a dating agency, match up the pets in need of homes with people who would be suited to them.
Other improvements to the centre include new laundry rooms and a new office for the volunteer co-ordinator.
The Blue Cross in Bromsgrove has 23 employees – a mixture of full-time and part-time staff – and 80 volunteers on the books without whom, Neil said, the charity would not be able to function as well as it does.
Neil said: “With the volunteers, we are grateful for however much or little they can do.”
The charity is always looking for new volunteers to fulfil a number of roles, including walking dogs, helping run clinics, administration, photography, social media and, of course, fosterers.
One scheme which has proved popular and successful is home direct – rather than animals remaining at the centre for their whole stay, that sees cats and dogs be fostered right up until the moment they go to their new home. It helps them get used to life in a house or flat and sometimes, volunteers take a pet home just for a night or a couple of days to see what they are like in that environment.
That helps staff when it comes to matching up the right pet with the right potential owner.
One thing for sure is that everyone at the Blue Cross – whether employee or volunteer – is looking forward to the new centre being fully open.
Neil told The Standard: “With all the building work going on, it has been difficult but now, when you see it taking shape you realise it has all been worth it.
“The team are really pleased and cannot wait to get started.”
And with the opening of the centre will be the opening of the sponsored kennels including our Bromsgrove Standard sponsored pen.
Our editorial team are busy looking through the nominations of Bromsgrove animal lovers and we will be picking one to join us on the day the new-look centre opens after its £1.9million revamp. They will help us officially open our Bromsgrove Standard kennel.
Go online to bromsgrovestandard.com to see more pictures.