The Nottinghamshire animal ambulance charity Animal Accident Rescue Unit has launched a new appeal to swell its ranks of volunteer drivers.
The organisation is recovering from a hectic summer which saw animal fosterers across the county inundated with rescued animals and birds – in particular a deluge of abandoned cats and kittens.
Among them was Paws, a painfully thin cat forced to give birth in a neighbour’s garden in Nottingham because her owner hadn’t bothered to have her spayed.
When the emergency call came, Paws was picked up by one of AARU’s dedicated team of volunteer ambulance drivers. She’s now making a good recovery – but it could have been a very different story.
Jon Beresford, a trustee of AARU, said: “Our organisation relies on the goodwill of its volunteers and we are always looking for new recruits to handle all sorts of jobs, from answering the phones to fostering animals – but at the moment what we really need are more drivers.
“We aim to provide a service that at least covers from 9am till 11pm but we are struggling due to a shortage of volunteers, particularly during the holiday season.
“Any help that anyone can give us is so valuable - even if people can only help for three hours a week, that’s one shift that can save an animal’s life – Paws the cat is just one example.”
Each of the charity’s drivers are ordinary people with no special veterinary training. Drivers use their own vehicles and are on duty in case an emergency call is taken by the telephone operator. The driver will then collect the animal and take it to the nearest veterinary surgeon.
All drivers and phone-operators are contacted weekly, and asked what shifts they are available for.
Jon said: “It is so important to emphasise that people do not need to be experienced or have any particular skills, all they need is a phone for a phone op or a car for a driver. There is no obligation, so do not worry if you are not available every week. Every little really helps.”
AARU deals with hundreds of cases every year, reaching every corner of Nottinghamshire – from rural woodland or countryside to the estates of Nottingham. Its work includes the rescues of vulnerable strays and ill-treated pets, along with domestic and wild animals and birds hurt in accidents on the region’s roads.
Rescued animals and birds are housed in the homes of volunteer fosterers where they are cared for until they can be considered well enough for rehoming or release into the wild. AARU funds the veterinary treatment of all strays.
To become a volunteer driver or offer assistance with the rescue work, contact Animal Accident Rescue Unit on 0115 9321 555.