4 ½ years ago I discovered that rabbits and rodents within South West Wales had very limited rescue support. There was one all species rescue which could take a few, and I was trying to help a family with 125 rabbits which needed to find rescue placements. One local rescue able to handle a few, just wasn't enough. I believed that these, all too often forgotten about, companion animals deserved the same standards of rescue support commonly afforded to dogs and cats. That they deserved a rescue which would be there for them when help was needed. As a result I founded Nibbles, a specialist rescue and re-homing centre totally dedicated to rabbits and rodents.
Since then, Nibbles has literally taken over my life. The continual stress has affected my health and the long hours has left me suffering with exhaustion (which I actually had no idea was even a real thing you could suffer from). Each day my last thought before I fall asleep is how we are going to solve a certain problem, or what I didn't manage to get done that day, and my first thought when I wake up is what we need to get through, and how I'm going to try to complete a never ending list of tasks. I'm not writing this for sympathy, I'm writing this because despite the above, I still believe that these animals need a rescue in South West Wales as much as I did 4 ½ years ago, maybe even more so. This post is about my belief in providing that rescue which cares deeply about the welfare of these animals and puts their needs first, rather than adding them on as an afterthought. It's about knowing what I am doing is worthwhile, and totally worth the punishment I am continually putting my physical and mental health through. None of that really matters when you know that you have made a difference to a life that needed help.
The sad truth is that a lot of my stress revolves around money, well the lack of. Money makes the rescue work. Not my hard work, and no matter how many hours I put in, it doesn't generate cash. We currently have space to take in a number of rabbits, but we don't have the cash to cover neutering and vaccinations. We urgently need to build a hay store. For the past 2 years we have faced serious hay shortages and literally only just scraped through. We need to buy in bulk now as the farmers cut and store it for use in early spring when sources run dry. But we don't have the cash to build one. We have just managed to cover the cost of 11 booster vaccinations which are needed this month for sanctuary and long stay bunnies, and I'm already stressing about the 9 boosters needed in September. We also have to cover the cost of the insurance allowing for voluntary help in April, and I shall start to stress about that in October. It's a constant, worrying about these things and knowing that there are rabbits waiting to come in but no funds to help them. It's a constant sick feeling that never seems to go away and never gets any better. But I still believe in Nibbles and try my hardest to make things work. I've become a dab hand at DIY, something I never thought possible, but it saves money for me to put in extra hours and build things myself. I've dug out and laid over 400 paving slabs by hand as my labour is free and a digger isn't. I've worked through flu and passed out in the mud, I've collapsed from exhaustion while cleaning hutches and I've spent many nights lying awake worried sick about how we can continue. But I still believe in Nibbles.
For me, giving up isn't an option. I've come close at times. Questioned how much more I can cope with and whether I can genuinely face another day. But as soon as I make it out to the rescue in the morning I know that I have to carry on. Because, despite everything, I still believe in Nibbles and its mission to help as many animals as possible.
But to do that, to be there for the animals who need Nibbles, we need your support. Nibbles needs you to believe as much as I do, in providing rescue support for rabbits and rodents. I'm not asking you to give your heart and soul to the rescue. You don't have to literally work until you drop. That's my 'job'! Nibbles needs you to help pay the bills, to fund the neutering and vaccination costs for rabbits when they arrive, so we can say yes to rabbits needing help.
We currently have space for 3 single rabbits and a pair of rabbits and only £100 in the kitty for new arrivals. We need £500 more before we can fill those spaces. We also have a single bunny and a pair reserved, and that will be a further £360 before we can say yes to more unwanted rabbits to take their place. The vaccinations due in September will be £135. In total that's £995 needed and that's just for the rabbits.
To build the hay store and fill it with 30 bales of hay, we need around £850, and that's just the materials as I will build it for free, and our bunderful volunteers have agreed to save me from yet more slab laying by attending a 'paving party' and helping out with all areas of the build.
We also have further plans to expand the rescue in the future. We need a dedicated quarantine block and we have space to put up further housing for pairs of rabbits. We need to replace some of our older rodent caging which is now rusted and starting to disintegrate, but we don't have the cash to do any of it.
To keep the rescue open and running we need to be raising just over £800 a month. We used to receive pallets of damaged stock and this was a huge help, but a change in the law now means that this won't be happening any more. So our basic running costs for food and bedding have shot up, meaning that the funds we do have, need to stretch even further and it's just not going to be possible.
For the first time in 4 ½ years Nibbles is genuinely facing an uncertain future and I am unable to fix it. The hours I dedicate to the rescue isn't going to make a difference to the current crisis we are facing. So I am pleading, probably more like begging, you to believe in Nibbles as much as I do and keep the rescue open and running for many years to come. All of our funds go directly to the rescue, we are all volunteers who work here for free because we believe in Nibbles. So every penny generated is spent on keeping the rescue open and the animals looked after.
We have over 1800 Facebook followers, if only ⅕ of those followers signed up to donate the tiny sum of 50p each week to the rescue, Nibbles would be free of money worries. This would mean us saying yes to the 5 rabbits we currently have space for. It would mean us saying yes to the 3 rabbits we will soon have space for. It will mean booster vaccinations are covered when needed, the insurance is paid each year, the store room is full of supplies for the animals, and we can start to raise funds towards building the hay store from auctions and other events.
350 'believers' donating the tiny amount of 50p each week is all Nibbles needs to keep going, but right now it seems like an impossible task. But without it, I genuinely don't know how Nibbles can continue. So all I can do is try, because I still believe in Nibbles.
One of my favourite rescue quotes is 'Saving one animal may mean little to the world as a whole, but it means the whole world to that one animal.' and this is what we aim to do at Nibbles. If you have made it this far, and you can understand why I made the choice to give my heart and soul to Nibbles and you believe, as much as I do, that Nibbles needs to be here, then please help us to continue to be here by signing up to make a monthly contribution towards our running costs. Help us keep the rescue open, help us say yes when we have space, and help us to care for those animals while they look for new families to love them. Your support is what saves lives and without it Nibbles simply won't be able to continue. So please sign up to give as little as £2 each month directly from our website. It'll take you less time than it took to read this post! Be one of the 350 people we need and know that your small contribution is changing the world for rabbits and rodents which are in need of Nibbles, because you believe in Nibbles too.