Frequently asked questions

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What's your central mission?

At BARKS we rescue, rehabilitate and re-home cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters and mice.

What are your success criteria?

We work hard to meet the following goals:

  • have a regular turnover of re-homed animals
  • maintain a widespread network of fosterers and supporters
  • maintain high welfare and hygiene standards for the animals
  • break even financially
  • earn good public feedback
  • above all, be kind in all that we do, both in our animal care and our work with the community.

What's unique or special about BARKS?

We put a lot of effort into our work at BARKS and this shines through in the high standards we set for our animal care and our thorough assessment of new homes. We’re proud of our central theme of kindness - to people and animals alike. It’s no accident that ‘kindness’ is right there in our name!

We're particularly proud of two things: we only ever euthanase animals as a last resort on the advice of a vet; and we're able to take in and care for cats with Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), giving them a good life; whereas many other charities will turn them away or put them to sleep.

How many pets have you rescued in total over the years?

Since 2000, BARKS has worked across Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire to care for and re-home almost 5000 needy animals, mainly cats and kittens. In 2017 – a bumper year for kittens – the team looked after 289 cats and over 100 other small furry creatures. It was over 350 animals in 2018, of which there were almost 200 cats and kittens adopted.

Where are your main animal care centres and who runs them?

The care centre is in Bodicote, Banbury run by Theresa. In Bodicote the focus is on cats and kittens. Rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters and mice are fostered in a number of other locations in South Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

How many pens and care places do you have available at any one time?

We can house up to 30 cats plus other small creatures at Bodicote. Guinea pigs are housed in two locations, Rabbits in two locations at the moment, and we are looking for more help, gerbils, mice and hamsters in one location

What's your geographical reach?

BARKS reaches out across Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire. This includes Leamington Spa, Southam, Daventry, Oxford and, occasionally, further afield into Birmingham and London.

When were you founded and by whom?

We were founded in the late Seventies by a group of enthusiasts who then operated in the Easington area of Banbury. We developed further in 1986 and registered as a charity in 1997. We believe we're the oldest animal rescue and care charity in the area and the main animal rescue charity of our kind in Banburyshire.

Do you rescue and re-home dogs?

Although our name might lead you to believe that dogs are our main focus, we are primarily equipped to rescue and re-home cats and small furries. However, we are currently helping dogs but will not be taking any more in for the forseeable future due to lack of available funds.

Do you partner with any other animal charities or initiatives?

In 2018, we merged with Tiny Paws of Bicester, taking on their animals, and we partner with Middleton Cheney's Nutkin Ward wildlife rescue operation and Rushden Persian Rescue, as well as co-operating with Cats Protection in Rugby.

How many animal carers are in your network of foster homes?

At present, there are around more than 20 wonderful foster homes that care for our animals. If you are interested in adding to this number, find out more on our Help BARKS page.

What’s the process for adopting an animal?

The process is straightforward but thorough. That’s the way we are: BARKS has a duty of care to the animals and our approach reflects this.

  • We make sure the animals up for adoption are healthy, friendly and, where required, microchipped.
  • As the potential adopter, you phone us to schedule a visit to meet the available animals.
  • You reserve your chosen animal(s).
  • In the case of our cats and , we visit your home for a friendly chat, to offer advice and to assess whether your chosen animal will be a good fit. Find out more about what this meeting involves and why it's so important in our FAQs.
  • For rabbits and other smaller furries, we require detailed information about living accommodation before a viewing is arranged, and home visits are also part of the process.
  • We make a recommendation and approve or decline the adoption.
  • If the adoption is approved, you come to collect your new friend(s), make a donation and sign up to the animal care conditions outlined in our adoption contract.
  • You and your new family member start your new life together.
  • We either make follow-up phone calls to check how you’re all settling in - or you can get back in touch with us for extra tips or advice. We like you to keep us updated on early progress via our BARKS Banbury Facebook page:

What does the home check visit involve and why is it an essential part of the adoption process?

You’ve chosen your intended new pet and talked about the ideal date to introduce them to your life. Now there’s just one more step before you pick them up and bring them home: the BARKS home check visit. One of our experienced volunteers will arrange to stop by at your home at a time to suit you. The visit is friendly and informal but also careful in covering key points about animal care, making sure that you and your intended new companion(s) will fit with each other’s lifestyles and be the best of friends. We discuss standard care criteria, to which we’d like you to commit, and chat through your needs and questions. Insurance, vaccinations, vet care and holiday cover are topics that typically arise, as are how to introduce the newcomer to existing pets and small children and how to deal with nearby traffic or safety hazards.

The meeting often takes place over a cuppa and lasts up to an hour. Usually, by the end, we’re able to share our recommendation and will advise the relevant BARKS rescue centre within 24 hours. If it’s good news, the way is clear for you to collect your pet and sign the adoption contract (see link in the answer above) - you just need to arrange a time!

Why do you ask for a donation when we adopt one of your animals and what does it include?

In simple terms, we couldn’t keep going if we re-homed without donations. It costs money to care for animals: feeding, housing, heating, medical checks, vaccinations, neutering, microchipping and, when necessary, paying for their treatment and recovery from illnesses, injuries and neglect. As a 100% volunteer-run, and 100% self-financed charity, these adoption donations contribute to the overall cost of rescuing and caring for these lost and lonely souls. We’ve no salaries to pay - just animals to rehabilitate.

The adoption fee also means your new pet will arrive with all necessary medical checks done and vaccinated, neutered (sometimes, depending on their age) and, in the case of cats, microchipped. We’ll also gladly bond your animals if you’re adding to one or more existing pets.

Which vets do you work with?

In Banbury, we work with West Bar Vets and Vets4Pets. They’re very helpful and offer us significant discounts, for which we’re immensely grateful. We also get support from Mansion Hill in Middleton Cheney.

What do you require of new owners?

We’ve worked meticulously to develop a thorough process to attract and advise loving new adopters.

All potential adopters are assessed and/or visited. This is vital, to protect both the animal and the new owner. We have a friendly and open conversation. We also check that adopters can afford vet/care charges or suitable pet insurance (which we recommend). When collecting their new pet, adopters sign a care contract in which they undertake to ensure the long-term care of the animal, with vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, safe holiday care and neutering (see link in these FAQs).

It’s the purrfect process to ensure a happy-ever-after outcome for animals and owners.

Where are the biggest challenges that face rescue adopters?

Making sure that animals are neutered is the primary duty for new adopters. Beyond that, it’s simply about overcoming any harm caused by previous abusive or neglectful human interaction. Often people take on pets in a rush of enthusiasm, without understanding the long-term commitment required. Sadly, as lifestyles and circumstances change, people sometimes abandon or neglect their pet. Owners who take on a rescue animal need to be conscious of this and work patiently and compassionately with their new pet to help them heal.

What's Young BARKS?

This is puppy training - for humans! We have a thriving youth arm – Young BARKS – which has 15-20 members at any time. It provides ideal Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme volunteer experience at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels (e.g. through our two-hour Saturday morning animal care team activities). Young BARKS volunteers look after animals and lead or take part in a wide range of fundraising and other support activity. Youngsters from any family with a £15 family annual BARKS membership are eligible, with parental approval.

How many members does BARKS currently have?

At the start of 2020 we had over 200 members. We need 300+ members to provide vital bedrock funds to feed, house and treat animals. Please do join us and help keep our doors open by becoming a BARKS member.

How do I become a BARKS member?

Annual membership is £10 per person, £15 per family. Please email or join on our Membership page on this site.

How do I get involved?

Pretty much by waving your paw in the air: there are numerous ways to help out at BARKS! Please take a look at our Help BARKS page or visit us on Facebook to see how you can help. If you love animals and have a skill we can probably find you a rewarding role! Don’t delay - contact us today.