I shot past Animal Helpline in the car, not realising it was there. Tucked away in the woods in the Cambridgeshire countryside, it was easy to miss.
Regular readers will know that my reason for visiting Animal Helpline is because I’ve discovered that, in recent months, many (but not all) of the stray dogs picked up from Ealing’s streets have ended up there.
Animal Helpline is a dog rehoming charity near Peterborough that takes unclaimed strays from dog pounds. If these dogs are not found a space in a rehoming centre, like Animal Helpline, when their seven day period of statutory detention is over, they can be in danger of being put to sleep.
I had been told not to expect the same facilities as at “Battersea” and they were right. We met at a wooden table in the open air with Ros, who founded Animal Helpline, co-ordinating activities. Teas were made, dogs were welcomed, paperwork completed at this hub. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the Centre was buzzing with helpers and hospitality.
Whilst there, I joined them for a dog walk. A friendly young staffie cross, Baldy, was my boy. And, yes, he was called Baldy because when he arrived he was bald. Baldy, his mange treated, is no longer bald and was a delight to walk. You can see details of Baldy on Animal Helpline’s website ( www.homes4dogs.co.uk ) plus details of dozens of other dogs looking for homes.
Animal Helpline and other rehoming centres are bursting at the seams. They can’t take in all the dogs who need rehoming. Dogs Trust Stray Dog Survey shows that last year 7% of strays were put to sleep in the UK.
With regard to our area, I have asked Ealing Council - who have initial responsibility for local stray dogs - if I can regularly see Ealing’s Stray Dog Register. This means I can keep you updated on the number of strays in our area and what we can do to reduce their number.
Meanwhile, thank you to readers who gave me dog food, towels and knitted blankets for Animal Helpline. I know they will be put to good use.