Liverpool

Birkenhead RSPCA centre closes due to abuse

Peter Hatton outside the Birkenhead clinic
Image caption Peter Hatton said the abuse had increased over the past few months

An RSPCA centre in Wirral has closed because of the amount of abuse the receptionist has received.

Sharyn Gavin handed her notice in after months of threats. During one incident a customer tried to punch her in the face at the Birkenhead clinic.

Branch manager, Peter Hatton, said lack of funds and continued threats of violence has resulted in its closure.

"Pet owners would become annoyed that they weren't getting seen quick enough," he said.

A large sign in the window of the practice in Livingstone Street, reads: "Due to unacceptable abuse our receptionist has resigned and is unwilling to undertake clinic duties. The clinic is closed until further notice."

The small surgery gives free or discounted care to pets belonging to pensioners, full-time students and those receiving benefits.

Vets will, however, always see animals who need emergency treatment.

'Threat of violence'

Mr Hatton said: "Over the past few months, it could possibly be linked to the fact that times are hard and its tougher to find outlets for their animals, but the abuse has increased.

"It's mainly verbal abuse, but on some occasions there is an associated threat of violence with it.

"On one occasion a woman tried to hit her but fortunately someone in the queue stopped her. It was due to the fact we could not see her animal when she wanted us to."

Mr Hatton said he was unwilling to employ anyone else in the role as it would be unacceptable to put them in a similar position.

The clinic also relies on donations locally, and due to the financial turmoil funds have been short.

"As it stands we cannot afford to keep on going."

Animal owners can visit the nearby RSPCA clinic in Wallasey.

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