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With more than 140 years of caring for animals in Guernsey, the GSPCA is growing to meet the demands of the modern world with enthusiasm, optimism and energy. The role now, as in those early days, of preventing cruelty and promoting kindness to animals, through education, is as strong as ever. So much is achieved - through qualified and dedicated staff, our own welfare officer, friends and supporters throughout the island and through our association with the other animal welfare organisations around the world.
We are completely funded through the generosity of the local community and without donations, monthly giving, legacies and our members we wouldn't be able to help the 1000's of animals every year that come through our doors.
We are a registered charity which is a requirement under Guernsey Law. Our charity number is 003 which makes the GSPCA one of the oldest registered charities in Guernsey and this number was issued by the Association of Guernsey Charities. You can find out more about the Association by clicking here.
As a charitable organisation the GSPCA is headed by a committee that is elected from the membership each year. The committee are members of the GSPCA that bring a variety of skills and expertise to drive the organisation forward and direct their team of staff, volunteers and supporters to help promote kindness and prevent cruelty to animals in Guernsey.
History of the GSPCA
The Society was founded on Valentines Day 1873 but complete records did not commence until 1919.
On 11th February, 1873, a meeting was convened in the rooms of the Societe Guernesiaise “for the purpose of considering the expediency of establishing in the Island a Societe for the suppression of Cruelty to Animals” and the Dean of Guernsey was called to the Chair. The Patron of the Society was His Excellency Lt. General Froome.
A Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was thus established on the 14th February 1873 and became known as the GSPCA.
A considerable amount of time in the early days was spent in persuading owners and drivers of horse drawn vehicles to show some consideration for their animals.
Boxcart drivers in the stone trade would haul very heavy loads of granite along unmade roads from the quarries to the cracking yards and to quite considerable distances where new roads and lanes were being surfaced, in most cases drivers were considerate to animals in their charge, but with some Companies animals were worked to their limit.
Butchers roundsmen with a horse and van would leave the shop at 6 to 7am and go on a country delivery round often running as late as 10pm and then having to stable and feed the horse.
Horses and cattle and farms were observed and where required were investigated if cruelty or neglect were involved.
Inspectors pay in 1915 was £1-1-0 per week and transport by pedal cycle and in November of that year Inspector Roberts left his post with the GSPCA to join the Police.
The first home for stray dogs and cats was at 11 St John Street, St Peter Port. 5/- (five shillings) a week was paid to the tenant for housing the kennels and looking after the animals.
In 1925 at a fete held at the Royal Hotel for the GSPCA the Bailiff said 'it's true that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a very necessary institution in any place. But seeing that the Guernsey's Society's policy is education rather than prosecution, it seems that a time is opportune for a change of title. The name could be altered to Society for Promotion of Kindness to Animals.'
The name was not change and the policy of education where possible rather than prosecution still remains today.
The GSPCA moved to No 4 Les Rocquettes, St Peter Port, which was bought for £570.00 plus £13.5.0d conveyance fees. The States arranged to house quarantine dogs at Les Rocquettes instead of at the Slaughter House. This property was sold in May 1930 for £425.00.
In October the GSPCA purchased its present site at Les Fiers Moutons, St Andrews. The house, outbuildings and ¾ vergee of land were bought freehold for £400.00 plus a further 2 vergees of land for £120.00 and an extra £5.00 included the spring and well. The first Committee meeting was held at the new premises. Mr & Mrs Cosgrove were appointed caretakers. The minutes of Monday February 3rd document a “Receiving Station” at Constitution Steps, presumably where people could bring their sick or unwanted pets who would then be transferred to Les Fiers Moutons. “A Mrs Bassett had made available her washhouse and was shown how to write down all the details in a book of animals coming in to her. Mrs Bassetts daughter would, for the present, take the animal out (to the GSPCA) by bus.” It was at this meeting that a decision was made to purchase a pony and cart to transfer animals from the Receiving Station to Les Fiers Moutons. At that time, the charge for use of this “Ambulance” was fixed at 6d. (now £10.00)
The new premises were formally opened on the 14th July. The cost of shoeing the Shelter horse was seven shillings.
A member of the Committee, Mrs Mignot, suggested that her part time chauffeur (Mr Hill), be appointed on a trial basis, as Inspector for the Society. The President, Rev P T Mignot, said that he would place a car at the disposal of his chauffeur and suggested an Honorarium of £10.00 a year.
The first motor ambulance was bought to replace the pony and cart, from Motor House for £128-8s-6d, plus tax of £3-18s.
On the 31st December 1939 was the last occasion for a number of years that the GSPCA held an AGM. It was reported that 91 dogs and 203 stray cats were cared for by the Shelter
Throughout the 1920's and 30's the Society was deeply involved with the prosecution of wild birds including shags and cormorants.
In July 1940 with the German Occupation, the Shelter ceased to function. The house and buildings were all destroyed and the Germans dug extensive tunnels on the site. Tons of rubble were thrown out on to the meadow on the north east side of the property raising the level of the lower part by some 20 feet.
Unable to sustain the cost of the motor van, the GSPCA went back to using a pony and cart. When food became scarce and islanders were worried about how to feed them, the GSPCA made the very difficult decision and placed an advert in the paper offering to euthanase peoples animals, rather than allowing them to starve to death. It wasn’t easy but there was also concern that dogs in particular, were at risk from the Germans. After the advert was placed in the paper, animals started to appear in droves, either brought in by distressed owners, left tied up to the gates, or even in cardboard boxes. Such was the demand that the GSPCA arranged for the bodies to be cremated at the incinerator at the Castel Hospital. On one such trip, the pony collapsed and died, pulling its sad load, and so another pony had to be purchased. From June 1940, regular amounts were paid to the Guernsey Railway Company for the incineration of the bodies.
In June 1942 there are the following entries Expenditure:
Removal of wireless from Edgeborough (by order) 2s.
Tip to man who helped, 1s.
At the end of the year, the GSPCA had the princely sum of £10-16s-5d in its account.
As things started to get back to normal, two old Nissan huts were bought. One being made into a temporary dwelling for the caretaker and the other was used for boarding and stray cats. Repairs were made to some of the dog kennels and other buildings. The RSPCA gave the GSPCA £300.00 this year.
The centre’s manager, Mr Cosgrove’s wage amounted to the grand sum of Five Shillings a week!
£1530.00 was received from the States Rehabilitation Fund and the RSPCA gave a further £200.00. In February 1947 £3.00 was paid for a goat, presumably to provide fresh milk?
On the 31st December 1947 the GSPCA had the first AGM in nearly 7 years.
In December 1948 a Mr & Mrs Dalmau were appointed Inspector and caretaker respectively, replacing Mr & Mrs Cosgrove who had served since 1929, and remained until February 1956 when they emigrated to New Zealand.
A year of drought, the spring entirely dried up and it was thought that the tunnelling work done by the Germans may have been largely responsible for this. However, a water diviner found an ample fresh supply of water in a convenient position so a new well was sunk and a petrol driven pump and windmill were supplied at a cost of just over £200.00. Four new kennels for boarding dogs were built with most of the funding coming from the Laine Memorial Fund (Eustace Laine MCMRCVS had been the Shelter’s vet for many years.)
Entry in the Visitors Book, 5th February 1949 reads: Tracy my Bullmastiff has been here 2 weeks and I find her well and happy and extremely fit. M L Richmond, Chain House, St Andrews.
During 1949 a further 2 and a half vergee of land was purchased for £140.00.
1950 onwards: more room was required to house both boarding cats and other animals so the Society built the Boarding Cattery (32 pens) in the early 50’s. Another building (now known as New Block) was also built to house cats, either for rehoming or strays.
The Animal Shelter had a busy year in 1951 with 325 stray cats and 152 stray dogs.
With help and evidence from the GSPCA, the Police prosecuted an owner for cruelty to a goat.
It was also reported that with the instillation of States Electricity that the initial equipment would cost more to install but it would reduce lighting costs in the future.
It was decided in 1957 that a new cattery was needed and members of the committee at thhe time were given the task to look at plans and supervise a build.
Also visitors from the JSPCA in Jersey visited to exchange ideas but the situation at the time was so different in the two islands it was agreed that little could be shared.
During the 1963 AGM the Secretary at the time Mr F. W. W. McCrea reported the Abolition of Gin Traps. He said 'I think this is the best piece of news for thhe Committee, Collectors, Supporters and General Public.' 'After several meetings with the States Agriculture Committee, Mr Thompson of the Infection Control Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, and Mr Wood, tenant of the Island of Herm, it was unanimous that gin traps, of which there are 4,000 in Herm, would not be used again.'
In the same yer the Shelter received 57 stray dogs and 57 stray cats.
100 years after being founded on Thursday the 12th April 1973 the GSPCA held the Annual AGM at The Rink, Saumarez Park at 2.30pm.
It was reported at the meeting that due to a rescue of a horse in Sark The RSPCA Awards Committee sent a letter of appreciation to the Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy Helicopter Station at Portland. Also a letter of appreciation was sent to Mr Peter Pawson, in Sark, for his action asking him to thank those who assisted him, Mr Frank Perchard and Mr Dennis Le Goubin.
As time went on, more and more cats were brought in for rehoming so in 1978 the St Francis Cattery was built to cope with the demand.
1974 was the year the Committee decided to offer a 24 hour call out service to be manned by voluntary wardens. One of the original wardens is John Bougourd who also went on to become the President of the GSPCA. One of John’s funniest recollections as a warden was in the early 1980’s when he was telephoned by a taxi driver late one winters evening and told that there were 3 penguins walking down the road from the airport. John went out and retrieved them from the car park of the Forest Hotel and took them around to the Guernsey Zoo, where he was informed that they had only arrived in the island earlier that day. It appeared that the penguins had probably walked across the airport runway in order to make their escape!
In 1979, the Society met with representatives of the Island Dog Training Club and the States Board of Administration with a view to buying and erecting an animal incinerator. After 18 months of negotiations, the Board of Administration agreed to a one off maximum payment of £1500.00 which bought the first animal incinerator.
Over the years pet cremation has become more and more popular with members of the public finding it a much more dignified end, and the Society are now running their 5th cremator.
In 1997, 20 years or so after Quarantine facilities had been abolished at the GSPCA, a client who was desperate to bring his dogs back from the USA kindly offered to pay for the refurbishment of two kennels to the required MAFF standard. It was so popular that the following year a further 4 dog kennels and 4 cat pens were added. There was a high demand for these facilities up until 2003 when the Passport for Pets Scheme was introduced into the Island. Since that time, there has been little or no demand for quarantine so the building is once again being used for boarding animals.
2002 was the year that we decided to upgrade the kennelling as it was now very much out of date. The level of noise was at times, uncomfortable for our neighbours and it was eventually agreed to demolish the existing 26 top kennels and start afresh. Advice was sought from many established boarding and welfare kennels on the subject of sound proofing.
2005 saw the completion of the two storey building that now houses 31 state of the art, sound proofed kennels on the ground floor and above, office’s, a staff kitchen, training room and much needed storage space. The building was officially opened on July 5th by the Society’s outgoing patron, Sir John Foley and was dedicated to the late Mr & Mrs Eric Collings who were very generous benefactors.
The training room was dedicated to our past President and Vice President, John and Barbara Bougourd for all of their hard work, effort and commitment to the Society over the past 30 years or so.
2006 We saw Jenny Fox after 10 years leave the Shelter and Lorna Prince joined the team and took over as the Welfare Officer and this role quickly became Welfare Manager.
In June 2007, Richard Papworth was seconded to the Born Free Foundation (BFF) for one month and found himself responsible for building a new lion enclosure at the President of Ethiopia’s Palace.
In December 2007 we welcomed a very unusual visitor to the GSPCA – Kodak, a 5 year old Tufted Capuchin monkey. Taken from the wild and sold as a pet to a gentleman in Greece. After 4 years, Kodak’s owner thankfully realised that to keep Kodak isolated from species of his own kind, was cruel. Kodak was relinquished to a monkey sanctuary in Holland and eventually, a place was found for him at the Monkey Sanctuary Trust in Cornwall. However, the obligatory 6 months quarantine had to be completed. As there are very few quarantine centres that would take this type of exotic animal, we were approached and eventually agreed to take Kodak.
The previous 4 quarantine cat pens were modified, ropes and swings added, and Kodak came to join us. Looked after mainly by Ian (Kip) Power, Kodak settled in well and his 6 months in isolation passed without any problems. The GSPCA would like to thank Dennis and Keith Bievenue from Forest Stores for kindly sponsoring Kodak’s dietary requirements’ during that time.
February 2008 came another unusual request from the Born Free Foundation: could we take 2 young lion cubs? We didn’t need asking twice! Sarnia and Marina arrived on February 9th, aged about 11 weeks. Born to a circus lioness, in pathetic conditions, both became ill quite quickly and were taken to a Romanian vet who nursed them back to health. Although adorable, as they grew and gained strength, a high rise flat in Romania was not going to be a permanent home and wisely, she contacted Born Free to see if they could take them. As they were too young to be taken out to the Shamwari Game Reserve, a home was required in the intervening months.
One of the kennels in the Quarantine block was soon ably modified by both Richard Papworth and Ian Power – a huge scratching post, logs and hanging tyres totally transformed the place into an African jungle gym!
On February 9th, these beautiful lion cubs arrived in Guernsey, accompanied by the Coronation Street actress, Helen Worth (Gail Platt) and Josie Russell. Josie survived a horrific attack that left her mother and sister dead, and Josie struggling for survival. She was being followed by a BBC film crew that were recording Josie’s Journey, a one hour documentary in which Josie revisits people and places that helped speed her recovery after she was left for dead. Both Helen and Josie are fierce campaigners for the Born Free Foundation.
April 24th came all too quickly. Sarnia and Marina had grown so fast that their first travel boxes, previously used for leopards, were too small. Larger ones were made and shipped over for the long journey to Shamwari, South Africa. A licensed animal carrier arrived on the morning of the 24th, and at 6.30pm, our very precious charges were loaded into their crates. Accompanied by Jayne (GSPCA Director of Operations) and Jan Wright from Vetcare, their journey back to their natural home began. Condor ferries kindly sponsored the crossing of the vehicle and it took the best part of 6 hours to get to Weymouth and then up to the Animal Reception Centre (ARC) at Heathrow. The following day, the ARC was a hive of activity with 5 television crews all wanting a part of the action.
Amanda Holden, from Wild at Heart, joined the entourage briefly to record her part in ITV’s Drama Trails. The cubs, of course, behaved like true television stars and took it all in their stride! After Amanda had finished recording her part of the programme, Sarnia and Marina were joined at the ARC by Brutus, a massive adult lion who had been rescued by the BFF in France, who was accompanied by Vetcare’s John Knight.
Later that day, they were loaded back into their crates for the next leg of the journey, Heathrow to Nairobi, then on to Johannesburg. After a 4 hour wait, Jayne, Jan and the 2 cubs flew the last leg of the journey directly into Shamwari. Poor Brutus had to travel by road as his crate was too big to be loaded onto the aircraft!
The following morning, with the African sun shining on their backs, Sarnia and Marina were let out into their new enclosure, 3 acre’s of bushland. Gladly, the cubs explored this new area with total glee and Jayne left knowing that her 2 charges were finally “home”.
August 2008 saw Richard Papworth once again seconded to the BFF to work on a project in Malawi for 2 months.
2009 Tony Gallie spent time in the UK training alongside the staff at Battersea Dog and Cat Home to see how they operate and care for the thousands of animals in their care. We held a dog show and summer fete at The Fairfield which was a lovely day and a fantastic success.
October 2010 The GSPCA held an Autumn Fayre and was organised by Jean Tanner and volunteers which managed to raise over £1500.
December 2010 saw the departure of Jayne Le Cras as the GSPCA Director of Operations after over 10 years of loyal service. It also saw one of the Shelters first Turkeys saved from the Christmas Dinner Table. Tinsel as she is named now lives happily with one of the Shelters volunteers.
May 2011 GSPCA staff and volunteers walked from Vazon Kiosk to Bordeaux picking up 100’s of piles of dog poo that had been left by irresponsible dog owners. As well as raising much needed funds.
June 2011 the GSPCA held it’s first AGM after a number of years and saw the return of Jayne Le Cras on to the committee and become the President of the GSPCA. The Shelter had a Long Eared Owl brought in all soggy and wet and was taken over to the Hawk Conservation Trust in Hampshire. The GSPCA also received a very large and kind donation from Carey Olsen which paid for a new vehicle for the Welfare Manager.
July 2011 Emma Trousdale who started in a new role as Welfare Officer to help Lorna Prince with the cruelty complaints, welfare work and education got the chance to go over to the UK to participate in training with the RSPCA Inspectors.
August 2011 Steve Byrne after 15 years working for the RSPCA joined the GSPCA as the new Manager. We also had Hobo the hamster handed in after being found dumped in St Peter Port in a bin bag left to die. The GSPCA staff and volunteers including Bernard the Mascot collected around the Island for a flag day which was a huge success.
September 2011 ACO Geoff George was asked to go over to Turkey by the Born Free Foundation to help care for two dolphins which they are rehabilitating for release back to the wild. The Shelter also started helping the other Animal Charities in Guernsey by ordering supplies for Guernsey Animal Aid and Guernsey Hedgehog Rescue to help reduce their running costs.
October 2011 The Shelter release the first group of Gulls that had survived from what were over 50 birds found ill and dead during September. Yvonne Chauvel (Senior Animal Care Assistant) and Steve Byrne (GSPCA Manager) released the birds with a large group of media watching as they flew back into the wild.
November 2011 The GSPCA were informed that the new Animal Welfare legislation would be implemented early 2012 having been passed through the States.
December 2011 Saw the refurbishment of the Wildlife & Oiled Bird Unit which quickly became full with hedgehogs due to the very sad news that Guernsey Hedgehog Rescue was closing. We also had two donkeys gifted to the Shelter for rehoming. Dizzy and Naomi who quickly rose to fame with need to find them a new home. The Shelter had a Christmas Fayre where Santa met with lots of visitors as well as Bernard our Mascot and friends.
Christmas Day 2011 A number of staff and volunteers gave up their time to do the Polar Bear Swim on Christmas Day to help raise funds for the Animal Shelter.
January 2012 The Shelter and the work of the GSPCA were featured on BBC Countryfile for the first time. It showed work at the Shelter as well as following ACO Geoff George.
February 2012 We said a sad farewell to Helen Whitcher who worked on reception for over 12 years who has moved back to the UK.
The GSPCA have many plans for the future and for 2012, to find out some of our wishes and plans for the future go to http://www.gspca.org.gg/about/our-plans-wish-list