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The highs and lows of a small animal rescue centre in 2020…


It has certainly been a year to remember. We began with the threat of closure hanging over us due to the planned sale of the Holbrook site for house building. Building has begun all around us and seems to be progressing at quite a rate. We are still unsure what the future holds, when they may begin construction on our land and, most importantly of all, where we will go?


And then came Covid and the first lockdown. We rushed to put in safety precautions and limited the number of volunteers so that we could socially distance. Our volunteers are a dedicated bunch but they really stepped up at this point. Fewer numbers meant that they were covering numerous shifts each week. We also stopped people visiting the centre so adoptions dried up. But then we weren’t getting in many dogs at that point, so numbers were manageable.


One thing we all noticed was the number of people out and about walking. Luckily it was a glorious summer and people took advantage. The dogs were a bit confused, seeing far more people using local footpaths near the rescue centre, and it was all too exciting for them at times. It provided us with an excellent opportunity to work on their recall. 😊


There were certainly plenty of good things that occurred in 2020. We created a new website which we will continue to develop over the next year or so. We registered for gift aid and are now able to claim 25% of any donation from a UK taxpayer and our Instagram following reached 2,000.


Covid did have an impact on the number of dogs we rehomed but as soon as restrictions were lifted our rehoming team, all volunteers, worked their socks off. We rehomed 62 dogs in 2020 and dealt with 1,330 applications.

We are an open rescue centre where we not only rehome but also rehabilitate. It became evident in 2020 that we were getting more and more dogs that required long term work. We therefore set up a separate Facebook group to share progress and keep our supporters up to date. We also have training plans in place and volunteers work hard to improve dogs’ socialisation and confidence. We have already seen a big difference in the long-term rehabilitation dogs and hopefully some will be ready for rehoming in 2021. Currently there are 7 dogs in sanctuary, 6 in long-term rehabilitation, 3 under assessment and, following a flurry of adoptions, just 8 up for adoption. We also added another 2 goats to our list of sanctuary animals. Dizzy and Peggy Sue are about 10 years old and needed a retirement home.


A number of dogs have come to us with serious medical issues this year. Bailey with hip problems, Tweedie with a tumour the size of a grapefruit and Patrick with numerous issues ☹. However we’ve had some great support from vets, our supporters and volunteers. We had high hopes that Bailey was going to have a hip replacement but it was not medically possible and his leg was amputated. However perhaps one of the highlights of our year was to see how quickly he recovered. No longer in pain, he has rapidly adapted to three legs and races around the field with the other dogs. Sadly we found that Tweedie’s condition is terminal but she is being well looked after and enjoys gentle tummy rubs. Patrick is finding his feet in his foster home and we are working on his health problems. Add in all the usual visits by vets and our annual vet bill was the highest in our history.


Another positive from 2020 is that we have been approached by other rescue centres when they required help with a particular dog. It’s great that we are all able to work together to help these animals.


Sadly there has also been an increase in pets who need to be rehomed due to a change in family circumstances. A sign of the times no doubt and very sad to see. People losing jobs and having to move to less animal friendly accommodation. Our heart goes out to these people and we make sure their pet finds a new, loving home with as little distress as possible. This is not just dogs but includes small pets such as hamsters and rabbits, usually rehomed directly from their original home.


So what does 2021 have in store? Hopefully we’ll find out more about our future in terms of location and Covid will become a thing of the past. We have a few small building projects planned but there is little point in too much investment as the future is so uncertain. We are taking part in a lottery in January and hope to start our own lottery later in the year. We also want to find a local celebrity to become our patron. If you have any ideas please let us know. But mainly we will continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals who have had a tough beginning in life and ensure that the remainder of their lives will be comfortable, fun and secure.


One last thing: we’d like to thank our supporters with all our hearts and wish you a safe and happy new year. Fundraising is a challenge in any charity and it doesn’t come easily when we are run by volunteers whose focus is the animals. I know many of you have already given generous donations, participated in our raffle and auction and sponsored our animals. However without money we cannot continue the work we do. Someone pointed out the other day that if all our 17,000 Facebook followers each gave a small amount then we would raise a considerable sum. If you are able to spare £1 or even 50 pence then please use our Friends of Holbrook Animal Rescue PayPal account PayPal.Me/HARFriends


Thank you to everyone, whatever your contribution has been, we’re grateful for it. Happy New Year!


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Herbie