STARescue founder Shirley King forced to hand 50 cats over to RSPCA

Basingstoke Gazette: One of the cats is taken away from STARescue One of the cats is taken away from STARescue

FIFTY cats have been taken away after a well-known Basingstoke animal rescue centre was swooped on by the RSPCA.

Officers from the animal welfare organisation took away cats housed by the charity STARescue, in Montserrat Road, Popley on Tuesday afternoon.

STARescue founder Shirley King said she was “living a nightmare” as animal welfare officers removed 50 cats that had been rescued by the charity and were waiting to be re-homed.

RSPCA inspector Jan Edwards said the decision to take the animals away was because “their welfare needs were not being met”.

Staff from the RSPCA first visited the terraced home on Monday following a complaint from a member of the public. A vet with the RSPCA then looked over the animals.

Mrs King, 65, was given the option to “sign over” the cats to the charity, or risk the police taking possession of them. She decided to sign them over.

Speaking to The Gazette on Tuesday, Mrs King, a former RSPCA Basingstoke branch manager from 1987 to 1996, said she was “devastated” by the removal of the cats.

“I want them back,” she said. “It is going to be a nightmare tonight and I am very, very sad. My volunteers are absolutely gutted.

"The RSPCA staff have removed the animals because they thought they were not in a safe environment, but all these cats are in a safe environment, fed regularly, they all get on together and they have all the treatments that are necessary.”

Four officers from the RSPCA spent more than four hours, with the help of Mrs King, tagging, photographing and removing the animals. A number will visit a vet for a health check, before being re-homed.

Mrs King was allowed to keep other animals that were in her home, including 22 rabbits and four guinea pigs.

Insp Edwards said the animals would not be put down, unless advised by a vet on medical grounds. “It would be a veterinary decision,” she said.

“The animals have been signed over to the RSPCA. We had a vet out earlier and the cats had to be removed for their welfare.”

She added that any decision to prosecute Mrs King would be the decision of RSPCA headquarters.

However, volunteers and supporters of STARescue said they were “disgusted” by the actions of the RSPCA.

One volunteer, who asked not to be named, said Mrs King had “done a fantastic job for so long”. The 50-year-old, from Kempshott, added: “I am disgusted with the RSPCA and sad for Shirley.”

And Kim Anderson, 52, from Brookvale, Basingstoke, said she has homed two cats rescued by Mrs King.

Kim added: “I have had cats off Shirley and they have been brilliant. I am just sorry I did not take any more.

“She does sterling work – she’s just brilliant. I don’t know how she has the stamina – she must have saved thousands of animals over the years.”

Mrs King has been rescuing animals for more than 25 years, and STARescue became a registered charity in June 1999.

Comments (8)

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12:20pm Fri 8 Nov 13

Sam_Walker123456 says...

50 cats, 22 rabbits and 4 guinea pigs in a house in Popley! I am not surprised somebody complained!
50 cats, 22 rabbits and 4 guinea pigs in a house in Popley! I am not surprised somebody complained! Sam_Walker123456

2:44pm Fri 8 Nov 13

Graceyjud says...

Well said Sam.

I homed two kittens from Shirley King many years ago. They were very sick and had contracted a highly contagious disease from Shirley's home.
It is not possible to care properly for that many animals in that small a space and not prevent disease from spreading. The conditions that animals were kept in that home were awful. The RSPCA have acted correctly in this situation and I hope that Shirley will be prosecuted for neglecting the welfare of all those animals. I also hope that she will get some help from Social Services as the conditions she lives in are not right either.
Well said Sam. I homed two kittens from Shirley King many years ago. They were very sick and had contracted a highly contagious disease from Shirley's home. It is not possible to care properly for that many animals in that small a space and not prevent disease from spreading. The conditions that animals were kept in that home were awful. The RSPCA have acted correctly in this situation and I hope that Shirley will be prosecuted for neglecting the welfare of all those animals. I also hope that she will get some help from Social Services as the conditions she lives in are not right either. Graceyjud

6:45pm Fri 8 Nov 13

Best_Name_Ever says...

Made a complaint at the time did you Graceyjud? If not, was it as really bad as you say, because what sort of person would allow animals to stay in that condition. That, coupled with the remark about social services makes me think you have some sort of personal grudge and this is a perfect opportunity for you to air it.
Made a complaint at the time did you Graceyjud? If not, was it as really bad as you say, because what sort of person would allow animals to stay in that condition. That, coupled with the remark about social services makes me think you have some sort of personal grudge and this is a perfect opportunity for you to air it. Best_Name_Ever

8:17pm Fri 8 Nov 13

MIss soapbox says...

i rescued my cat Eddie from Shirley 20 odd years ago.
He had been an abused kitten that she had rescued and thank god she did. Eddie before his passing a couple of years back brought us much joy and happiness.

Yes Shirley has housed a lot of cats ( probably more than one person could easily handle) but at least she cares and tries her very best and i am sure there are a hell of a lot of people that would agree with me many cats have found happy homes thanks to the efforts of this woman..

Yes maybe there has been a problem but more help is needed not chastisement and abuse.

Well done Shirley i am sure this will all be sorted out soon and you can carry on with the essential and great work we know and love you for.
i rescued my cat Eddie from Shirley 20 odd years ago. He had been an abused kitten that she had rescued and thank god she did. Eddie before his passing a couple of years back brought us much joy and happiness. Yes Shirley has housed a lot of cats ( probably more than one person could easily handle) but at least she cares and tries her very best and i am sure there are a hell of a lot of people that would agree with me many cats have found happy homes thanks to the efforts of this woman.. Yes maybe there has been a problem but more help is needed not chastisement and abuse. Well done Shirley i am sure this will all be sorted out soon and you can carry on with the essential and great work we know and love you for. MIss soapbox

8:43pm Fri 8 Nov 13

donna stanley says...

hmmmm took the cats but left all the other animals....goes to show things could not have been that terrible then, or is it only the cats they wanted, something is not right here!
hmmmm took the cats but left all the other animals....goes to show things could not have been that terrible then, or is it only the cats they wanted, something is not right here! donna stanley

12:42pm Mon 11 Nov 13

N7TFM1 says...

i adopted ferrets from shirley 10 years ago, also she has always been there when need help and advice, always happy to help, shirley is a fantastic lady. she devoted her life to saving and rehoming the animals ,that otherwise would have been put down, every creature that shirley took in was given love and care, my heart goes out to her, i cant imagine how she feels, humiliated, let down, above all her life work and devotion ripped apart, the animals removed must be traumatised shirley helps rebuild the trust in the animals that have gone through who knows what, and to have that shattered yet again,why? if it wasnt for this lovely lady a lot of the animals wouldnt have found a new happy and loving home. give the lady a break. she should be reconised for her good work and not publicly humiliated like this. the world would be a better place if everyone was like shirley.
i adopted ferrets from shirley 10 years ago, also she has always been there when need help and advice, always happy to help, shirley is a fantastic lady. she devoted her life to saving and rehoming the animals ,that otherwise would have been put down, every creature that shirley took in was given love and care, my heart goes out to her, i cant imagine how she feels, humiliated, let down, above all her life work and devotion ripped apart, the animals removed must be traumatised shirley helps rebuild the trust in the animals that have gone through who knows what, and to have that shattered yet again,why? if it wasnt for this lovely lady a lot of the animals wouldnt have found a new happy and loving home. give the lady a break. she should be reconised for her good work and not publicly humiliated like this. the world would be a better place if everyone was like shirley. N7TFM1

6:52pm Mon 11 Nov 13

Jonty11 says...

Surely if you are a rescue home, the normal thing is that you try to rehome the cats?

If she had 50 of them in a terraced house, it could not have been an ideal environment for the cats (can you imagine the fighting?) or any human living there.

So it begs the question why she wants them back? Surely she wants the best for them and in most circumstances, that would be a home of their own, not a small house with no place to stretch or relax
Surely if you are a rescue home, the normal thing is that you try to rehome the cats? If she had 50 of them in a terraced house, it could not have been an ideal environment for the cats (can you imagine the fighting?) or any human living there. So it begs the question why she wants them back? Surely she wants the best for them and in most circumstances, that would be a home of their own, not a small house with no place to stretch or relax Jonty11

11:59am Wed 13 Nov 13

Honeybee123 says...

This isn't the first time this has happened to Shirley, it happened years ago when she worked for the RSPCA. Shirley is a very caring lady and loves those animals completely but the problem is you need to know when to say no. A terraced house in the middle of a housing estate is not the environment to keep this number of animals. This risks disease and neglect albeit through the best intentions. I just hope more monitoring is put in place so this doesn't happen again and any money Star Rescue have is put to good use on a proper rescue centre rather than the inadequate one which had been used.
This isn't the first time this has happened to Shirley, it happened years ago when she worked for the RSPCA. Shirley is a very caring lady and loves those animals completely but the problem is you need to know when to say no. A terraced house in the middle of a housing estate is not the environment to keep this number of animals. This risks disease and neglect albeit through the best intentions. I just hope more monitoring is put in place so this doesn't happen again and any money Star Rescue have is put to good use on a proper rescue centre rather than the inadequate one which had been used. Honeybee123

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