CASH has been swindled from an animal charity in desperate need of funds to stop its closure.
About £6,000 has been pilfered from the RSPCA Hillingdon, Windsor and Slough branch. The cash was taken from safes in the Hillingdon and Slough charity shops in the past six months.
A concerned shopper, who told the Gazette of the incidents but wished to remain nameless, said: "It makes a mockery of the people who donate money and give up their spare time to support the charity. If the public knew their money was being stolen they would be more than disappointed."
The branch, including the clinic in Uxbridge Road, Hill-ingdon, has been in dire straits for months with about £180,000 needed to forestall closure.
In 2007, some 12,000 animals passed through the doors of the clinic, which has also seen a rise in animals abandoned and direct debit donations stopped as people look to make savings through the credit crunch.
But after a Gazette campaign, the clinic's funds seemed to be improving.
Liz Sheppee, animal welfare officer at the clinic, confirmed there had been two incidents.
She said: "Taking from a charity is in a different league to robbing from a shop. It creates costs for us that we didn't really need, money we could have spent on animals' welfare.
"It's sad that this is what society has come to."
Both shops have lost £3,000 from their safes. Police have investigated the incidents but no arrests have been made.
Ms Sheppee urged residents to continue offering their support. "We've been really pleased by the response from the public - we've still got a way to go to make sure we've got enough in the bank to keep us going, but we're feeling a bit more confident," she explained.
The concerned resident added: "I know of someone who took £500 into that shop. I can't believe someone would do that when they've nearly had to close.
"It's disgusting. The public need to know what's been going on."