Alexandra Bastedo's column

This month Alexandra Bastedo, actress and custodian of the ABC Animal Sanctuary near Pulborough, tells us why fundraising is so important to pay for the animals' treatment

Vets, like London buses, sometimes come in threes. Sometimes we can go for months without a visit but now and then we have to call the equine vet, the farm animal vet or the small animal vet.Nutrition, herbs and homeopathy help to keep down the vets’ bills but even so there are times when they are unavoidable. Last week the equine vet came and examined Charlie the Shetland, who had problems with his pedal bone (quite common in Shetlands, this would cost �3,000 to put right). He then saw Raffles, an older Shetland, who has developed diabetes and Hutch the donkey who had developed an abscess in his back hoof. Charlie was relatively easy, but it took three of us to immobilise Raffles for a blood test and our poor vet Alastair, after hanging on to Hutch’s back leg while he released the abscess, had a bigger work-out than he would have had at any gym.Next it was the turn of the farm animal vet who came out to see a poorly lamb at 9pm one night after it had refused its bottle – we had been feeding it at 7am, 11am, 4pm and 9pm. By the morning the little lamb had died, leaving its little companion bereft and grieving.When a mother ewe rejects her lamb it is often because she can sense something is wrong and in flocks there is usually a 15 to 20 per cent mortality rate.The fluctuating weather patterns do not help either without a mother  to snuggle up to. To lose an animal is always a sadness but as a farmer once said to me: “When you have so many animals you must expect the odd death.”Finally it was off to the small animal vet with Pip the dobermann, who had swallowed five sachets of cat food, and a little cat that had suffered a stroke. The dog, with the help of some liquid paraffin, finally relieved himself of the unwanted obstructions and the little cat is beginning to walk better with the help of steroids and massage.When I succumbed to sobs at the death of an elderly cat that had been with us for a long time, vet Mark Elliott told me to concentrate on the living and, with so many rescued animals now dependent on us at the Sanctuary, that is what we have to do. Three more cats came in yesterday, all with their own problems, so life goes on. One, unbelievably, had come in because it didn’t match the furniture. A big thank you to everyone who supported our open days in spite of the inclement weather. To continue funding our vet bills we need brave folk to take part in our sponsored fire walking evening on 10 September at West Chiltington Village Hall. We are also holding a musical gala evening at the Riverside Studios Theatre Hammersmith, London, on 25 September with Simon Callow, Jenny Seagrove and a host of celebrities, singers and musicians. 

For details of events or to see photos of the Open Days: PO Box 2195, Pulborough, Sussex RH20 2XB or call 07967046068. Contact Allan after 11am on 01798 812081 about the fire walking

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