Anyone who works in rescue will tell you that it's relentless. We do what we do because we are desperate to make a difference, to prevent animals suffering, to protect them, to love and nurture them and to ensure that they have a bright future ahead. We are passionate about what we do because we believe that they deserve better and we are here to help when they need us most.
One of the hardest things to deal with is knowing that there will always be another animal needing our help. We wish it wasn't the case, but the reality is that there are far more animals becoming unwanted on a daily basis than ever before. A recent survey found that nearly half of first time rabbit owners who purchased their rabbits during the pandemic regret it. Unaware of the amount of work involved and now they have returned to work and leisure activities have reopened, no one wants to care for the rabbits.
The pandemic has only made matters worse, sadly rabbits and rodents have been purchased on the belief that they are easy, cheap and low maintenance pets for many years prior. The idea that children are capable of undertaking the long term commitment of their care and welfare, and parents unwilling to take responsibility when children grow bored. It's the most common reason for rabbits entering rescues all across the UK.
The vast majority arrive in rescues unneutered and unvaccinated, and require dental treatment as a result of unsuitable diets. It can take months before these rabbits are ready to start the search for a new suitable home, and in the meantime more rabbits have been purchased and more have become unwanted. The cycle doesn't stop and we are frantically trying to do all we can to help as many as possible.
It's incredibly difficult to feel so passionately about these animals, know first hand of their trials and tribulations, and be prevented from saving every single one you are alerted to. We are desperate to change their lives, and support them on their journey towards their very own happy ending.
Nibbles opened because West Wales urgently needed a specialist rescue able to cater these generally forgotten about companion animals. We strongly believe that rabbits and rodents deserve the same standards of rescue care commonly afforded to dogs and cats. Despite their small size, and the general misconception that they require less commitment towards care and welfare, compared to cats and dogs. We firmly believe that these animals deserve better and our entire team is passionate about our work at Nibbles. We opened with a single goal in mind, to provide a specialist rescue able to make a difference to the lives of these delightful companion animals when they needed us the most. It's been an incredible journey to have brought Nibbles so far, having started with nothing but a patch of vacant land. Over the years we've helped many rabbits and rodents who were in urgent need of a safe refuge, veterinary treatment and compassion, before they were able to find their new forever family. Throughout those years the hardest part has always been knowing that more animals urgently needed our help. This knowledge has driven us forward in every decision we've made with regards to the charity as a whole. What can we do to help more animals? Is the question we ask ourselves daily.
We need these three things to provide rescue support: 1) suitable accommodation and facilities for the animals coming into our care. 2) sufficient manpower to care for the animals while with us, and keep the charity running. 3) sufficient funding to cover the day to day running costs and vet treatment.
We have worked incredibly hard to provide a custom built rescue and work on our infrastructure has been ongoing since we opened in 2015. This year we've prepared the remaining space, ready to build further rabbit housing next summer. We've also prepared space for a large storage shed, enabling us to purchase hay and other essential supplies in bulk. Last year we renovated an old mobile home to provide hot running water and a working toilet for our staff and volunteers and built two additional rabbit housing units. During 2017 to 2018 we replaced a lot of our rabbit housing with customs built singles kennels and pairs units. The work has never stopped, allowing us to provide the animals in our care with excellent facilities during their stay and most importantly, increase the number of animals we can house at any one time.
Providing sufficient manpower to care for the animals and keep the charity running has always been a difficult situation. This year saw the addition of paid staff to Nibbles. This was not an easy decision for us to make, but an essential one. While with us, we must provide the animals with suitable levels of day-to-day care. There would be little point in taking these animals out of a bad situation, only to neglect their care and welfare needs without enough manpower to meet them. Many don’t realise the work involved in running a rescue. First and foremost we have the animals to care for every single day of the year without fail. In a rescue setting, biosecurity is vitally important and therefore our cleaning rota is much more intensive compared to that of family pets. Our rabbit housing is regularly cleaned throughout the week with suitable disinfectant, once a month everything is deep cleaned and when an animal leaves our care, housing needs to receive a change over clean before the next occupant arrives. A full change over clean takes at least 45 minutes and up to an hour and a half for our larger units. We also have regular health checks to carry out and grooming. Aside from the day-to-day care of the animals there is a lot of admin, from keeping the website up to date, keeping the animals records up to date, keeping the accounts up to date, replying to emails, dealing with adoption enquiries, organising fundraising, answering the phone and booking vet appointments, along with running animals back and forth from the vet. Until this year, we’d relied fully on voluntary help with the day-to-day care of the animals. Sadly, finding enough reliable and dedicated volunteers was virtually impossible and left us severely struggling to keep on top of all the work involved in running Nibbles. If any part of the chain breaks down, the rescue, and most importantly, the animals suffer as a result. Unlike many other charitable organisations, we can’t simply close for the day if volunteers don’t show up. The animals still need to be cleaned, fed and watered at a bare minimum, so someone must be able to provide this care regardless. Nibbles is now run by 1 full time and 2 part time staff members and 4 regular, and very committed, volunteers. This has made a huge difference to not only the animals in our care but also to the rescue as a whole. However, financially it has put a huge strain on the rescue with staff wages needing to be covered. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place of having to provide the animals and the rescue as a whole with enough manpower to keep it running and having to use our funding to cover wages. One fact has remained very clear since we opened, there are far more unwanted and unloved rabbits than we could ever have the ability to help. No matter what we do, we will never be able to help every single one. We are all too aware of that painful reality, but that fact should not prevent us from doing absolutely everything we can to help as many as possible. ‘Saving one rabbit may mean little to the world as a whole, but it means the whole world to that one rabbit’
We have worked incredibly hard this year to prepare for our new housing. By the end of 2022, our goal is to have increased our rabbit housing, allowing us to cater for an additional 10 rabbits at any given time. That’s 10 extra worlds we can change for the better. But 10 additional rabbits come with a great financial burden. With so many now requiring dental treatment on arrival, neutering and vaccinations we are now facing intake costs of between £198-£218 per rabbit, that’s between £1980-£2180 for 10. Our adoption fee only covers a small fraction of these costs, leaving a deficit of at least £148 per rabbit. Our estimated monthly running costs for 2022 is £2,500 a month, increasing to £3,200 in 2023. Being able to financially provide for the animals in our care is vitally important. It’s as important as having sufficient manpower to care for them.
We have done everything we possibly can to make a difference to the lives of unwanted and unloved rabbits and rodents. We have provided excellent facilities to keep them safe and warm during their stay. We have provided them with an amazing welfare team to take care of them and provide them with as much love as possible while they wait to find their forever families. But to keep Nibbles open and running the animals are 100% reliant on your support. They need you to feel as passionately about their lives and futures as we do. They need you to care about their fate when they are no longer wanted. They need you to believe that they deserve better than a free to good home advert. We have done everything we can to save them, to change their lives and provide them with a bright and happy future. Now we need you to join us in changing the world for one rabbit at a time, because there is always another rabbit needing our help. Your small regular monthly pledge will make a huge difference to their lives. It will provide them with hope, and teach them that humans can be kind and that they do care. Join us today and give an unwanted rabbit or rodent a new start in life. Together we really do change lives.
To make your pledge to unwanted and unloved rabbits rabbits and rodents ➡️ www.nibbles.org.uk/make-a-pledge