A socially distant protest is being held on Friday (July 31), outside the RSPCA Putney Hospital, to campaign against plans to close four of the animal charity’s sites.

On June 25, the RSPCA announced proposals to close its Putney Hospital, Southall Cattery and Clinic, Lockwood Equine Centre and South Godstone Animal Centre, as part of a 10-year restructure plan.

The closure, scheduled for September 2020, comes as the company faces increasing financial strain, made worse by the pandemic.

In an open letter to campaigners, CEO, Chris Sherwood, says:

“The RSPCA is facing one of the biggest challenges in its history and needs to adapt now to protect the vital services the Society provides to animals in the future.

“The current way we operate our services is not financially sustainable. Failure to ensure spending is in line with income could mean that the Society is not able to rescue animals that need us in the future.”

However, campaigners say that the hospital, which has been on the site for over 100 years, is integral to the community.

Putney Hospital treats stray and abused animals, and offers reduced cost services, such as vaccination and neutering, for people on benefits who cannot afford private veterinary care.

Wandsworth Times:

Fox treated by the Putney Animal Hospital

There are also concerns that the closures will have knock-on-effects for nearby centres, as the RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Sutton branches, use the premises at the Putney Hospital.

Putney MP, Fleur Anderson, has disputed the closures, saying:

“I am calling on the RSPCA to save Putney Animal Hospital and have met with the Chief Executive Chris Sherwood. Over 1500 people have signed my petition to save the hospital and today’s protest shows how much support there is.

“People come from all across South London to have their pets treated and otherwise could not afford to go to the vet. Over 7,500 pets and wild animals are treated here every year, and 20% of all of the RSPCA’s frontline work is here in Putney.

“I’m calling on the RSPCA to work with another provider to take on the vital work for animals here, or to think again and save the hospital.”

The Labour MP and local councillors will attend the community protest against the closure, at 1pm on Friday.

RSPCA vets will be available to offer advice and discuss the work they do.

You can find out more about the campaign here.