Vet’s desperate plea for £4,000 to replace old clinic that is a ‘lifeline’ for dogs

A small rescue centre is appealing for urgent help to replace its veterinary clinic, which offers lifesaving care to thousands of animals on the brink of death each year. Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (ARC) is the largest and longest-standing shelter in the city, having taken in homeless dogs and cats since 1887.

Its animal care unit opened 25 years ago – but nearly three decades later, it still has the same X-ray machines, surgical tools and even lights. Principal vet, Dr Damian Pacini said: “There’s quite a bit of equipment that needs replacing, like the incubator, which costs £800 to replace but is a lifeline for when we have sick and injured wildlife arriving here.”

The veterinary clinic opened in 1995 thanks to a generous gift from local resident Louise Wall but now desperately needs renovating.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes in the past 25 years and a lot of our equipment has been here since it opened, so we do need to update it to make sure that we can keep offering the care that Bristol’s animals urgently need,” Dr Pacini explained.

Whilst Bristol ARC is affiliated with the RSPCA, it receives no automatic funding from it, meaning the centre relies solely on donations from the local community to keep its vital work going.

The clinical team, made up of eight vets and nurses, have no choice but to use decades-old gadgets to give abandoned and unwanted animals a second chance.

Stray dog Layla is just one example of the incredible work performed by the veterinary staff.

Layla was dumped in a nearby park, having given birth not long before, and was suffering with mammary tumours, a skin infection and various other medical issues.

The animal care unit operated on her immediately, and soon discovered a nasty infection in Layla’s womb that needed an emergency hysterectomy.

Layla’s condition could have been fatal had it gone untreated – but thankfully she has now been rehomed with a loving family in Bristol.

The charity’s appeal for funds comes as the centre faces huge demands for care amid the cost of living crisis.

Communications manager Gina Jones explains: “It’s getting increasingly harder and tougher. People are struggling and we’re definitely experiencing the impact of lockdown puppies and the rising cost of living.

“We are at full capacity with more dogs in our care than ever before, and more rabbits and cats as there is a breeding crisis which is making things harder.

“We’ve also seen a bigger demand for our outreach service. We offer low cost veterinary care to communities on benefits or reduced income and we’ve seen a higher need as more people lose their jobs and struggle to pay bills.

“Our bills have gone up too – so keeping the animals warm and energy going is costing us more, but we’re finding it harder to raise money.”