Double lockdown blow at animal rescue centre
A SECOND Covid-19 lockdown is not only putting more financial strain on a dale animal rescue centre, but also on the people with special needs who depend on it for their wellbeing.
People with learning difficulties, such as autism, will be losing out on vital therapy after Wetheriggs Animal Rescue, near Greta Bridge, was forced to close its doors for a month last week.
Among those who will lose out are two groups from North East Autism who each volunteer once a week at the centre.
Sarah Barraclough, from Darlington, said her autistic son Jay Wakefield would miss his weekly volunteering trips to the centre.
She said: “The therapy they get from the animals is amazing – being here is just so good for the soul. There is nothing else like it in the area.”
She is among many who have actively been fundraising to keep the centre going doing both periods of lockdown and last week she made another delivery of vital feed which had been donated by a pet shop in Darlington.
Centre operator Terry Bowes said a lot of the special needs volunteers were now unable to come to the centre because their companions who accompany them on visits had been put on furlough by the organisations that employ.
He said the most recent lockdown will again put strain on the centre’s finances, especial since its second open day of the year, which was planned for last weekend, had to be cancelled.
Open days are a large source of income because it is the only time Wetheriggs can legally open its exotic animals centre to the public, which includes such creatures as a fox, meerkats, birds of prey and reptiles.
He said: “We have enough cash to last to the end of the month.
“The reserves we would have built up during this month would have taken us through to the next month. December will be a test for us – we just need to bump along until April.
“But I never cease to be amazed by the kindness of local people. In a lot of ways it has been humbling. We have farmers driving up and dropping off feed. We had a windfall off an apple tree, people went to pick them up and bring them in.”
Following Halloween some 350 pumpkins were dropped off by people.
Mr Bowes said: “We use them for animal feed – the pigs love them and some of the other animals like them too.”