RSPCA Leeds, Wakefield and District branch’s new £1.5 million animal centre in East Ardsley opens to the public tomorrow (Saturday 27 June), and the first animals born at the centre will be amongst those looking for new homes.
Moira the cat was picked up as a stray, heavily pregnant and with a leg injury. Her kittens – Picnic, Twix, Crunchie, Ripple, Topic and Kitkat (pictured below with Moira) – were born at the centre, while work was still taking place to finish it.
They are amongst the first of many that staff at the centre will care for and rehabilitate after being rescued from cruelty and neglect by RSPCA officers in West Yorkshire. The branch aims to find permanent, loving home for these animals in the local area.
Branch manager Caroline Lewis-Jones said: “The number of people convicted of animal cruelty after RSPCA prosecutions was the highest in the country here in West Yorkshire again last year (93), and the number of complaints investigated by RSPCA officers in our county (8,440) was second only to Greater London (12,202).
“We hope our new animal centre will be a symbol of the community’s commitment to combat animal cruelty and be a safe haven for local animals in need, just like Moira and her six kittens.”
The grand opening of the centre, on Moor Knoll Lane, will take place at 12noon. Caroline said: “Leeds boxer Josh ‘The Warrior’ Warrington, whose family adopted a St Bernard dog called Dexter from us last year, is doing us the honour of cutting the ribbon at midday, for which we’re very grateful, and we’ve invited the people who have helped us get to this point to say thank you, then from 1pm we would like to welcome the public to come along and celebrate with us too.”
The first animals moved into the centre about seven weeks ago and potential new owners have been invited to visit animals at the centre by appointment. After tomorrow, the doors will be open between 10-4 every day except Wednesdays, when viewings are between 11-3.
The new centre has the capacity to house 15 dogs, 30 cats and, when completed, up to 12 small furries like rabbits and guinea pigs. There are isolation facilities, a vet suite, an indoor dog arena for training and play and outside exercise areas, a shop and visitor centre.
It’s over 10 years since the branch’s old centre on Cavendish Street, off Kirkstall Road, closed in 2004.
The old site was around 40 years old and needed upgrading to comply with licensing regulations, and when student flats were given the go-ahead to be built next door it meant dogs could no longer be housed there, so the branch decided to sell to the council.
“Although the branch’s welfare work very much continued out of MyPetStop in Tingley, it was as though we disappeared from the public’s view,” said Caroline.
“Finding the right location was really difficult, and there have been lots and lots of ups and downs along the way, which is why it’s taken so long. It has been worth it though. The new state of the art centre doesn’t leave people in any doubt where they are when they visit and we could not be more excited to start getting animal-lovers through the doors.”