Animal centre will shut after 60 years - but it might not be for good

The PAWS team - (left to right) Kevin Mulhall, fundraiser; Shiela Johnstone, secretary; Graham Johnstone, chairman; and Susan Priestner, receptionist. Picture by John Tuttiett.

The PAWS team - (left to right) Kevin Mulhall, fundraiser; Shiela Johnstone, secretary; Graham Johnstone, chairman; and Susan Priestner, receptionist. Picture by John Tuttiett.

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An animal welfare service in Northumberland that offers veterinary treatment in return for donations is closing its doors after 60 years - but it might not be the end.

The People’s Animal Welfare Service (PAWS) at Bedlington was founded in 1954 by former RSPCA worker Mary Weightman.

The charity has run weekly clinics for poorly animals ever since, where visitors are asked to pay a donation for treatment by qualified vets.

The charity will close at the end of the month as a result of dwindling volunteer numbers needed to get the funds to keep the charity going – but will review the situation in the new year.

Charity chairman Graham Johnstone, who lives in Bedlington Station, said: “For some time now, PAWS has struggled to maintain its level of service with ever-dwindling support.

“It has come to a point where the efforts of a dedicated few can no longer meet the needs of the many, some of whom could perhaps have done more themselves.

“As a result, this veterinary service will close at the end of October but we have agreed on a possible rescue plan.

“It still involves a closure, but temporary until the new year, by which time we should be able to make a better decision.

“We promised our founder that we would continue her work for as long as possible, and this we have done.”

Thousands of horses, pigs, Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, cats, dogs snakes, and even a Spider Monkey, have crossed the treatment table over the years.