Friday, 25 September 2015

A tour around Shoreham Dogs Trust

Hello and welcome to my blog. Today, I’m featuring our local Dogs Trust in Shoreham.  Dogs Trust, formerly the National Canine Defence League, was founded in 1891 and is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK. It’s most commonly thought of as a rehoming organization but that’s just part of its remit. It also;
·      subsidises neutering campaigns in areas of the UK with the most acute stray dog problems,
·      established the Freedom Project which helps pet owners fleeing domestic violence by fostering their animals while they start a new life,
·      formed the Hope Project which gives preventative veterinary care to dogs belonging to homeless people,
·      advises government on any matters concerning dog ownership,
·      assists overseas animal welfare charities by training their staff in best practice,
·      established a charity in Ireland that runs a rehoming centre in Dublin and 
·      gives thousands of classroom presentations every year and provides free teaching resources to all schools in the UK.
     Dogs Trust has 21 rehoming centres, one of which lies near the banks of the River Adur and this summer, Tracey Rae, the Centre Manager, took Tom and I on a behind the scenes tour for lifeon-shorehambeach.

Tracey Rae, Centre Manager.
       “I’ve always been interested in animal welfare and joined Dogs Trust over 20 years ago as a volunteer dog-walker. I got more and more involved, eventually becoming the Assistant Manager of the Salisbury branch before joining Shoreham as the new Manager. I’ve been here for over seven years and am responsible for all the operational aspects of the centre, 23 Dogs Trust staff and 50 volunteers.
       The site covers about 30 acres and comprises of a training block, 50 kennels, a reception area, an operating theatre and neutering suite, exercise areas, two cultivated fields, where the dogs run free, and about 26 acres where they walk around on leads. We hold a maximum of 65 dogs at a time ranging from new-borns to 21 years old.
       People hand in their dogs for lots of different reasons. They may have had a new baby, changed their job, moved house, become ill or the dog may have developed behavioural problems. We also get stray dogs from Wales and Ireland. Thankfully, we don’t get many cruelty cases but I’m always sad to see that there are so many unwanted dogs. However, it does have an upside as it’s lovely to know that if they are here, they are safe.
        Upon arrival, a dog is checked for fleas, wormed and given vaccinations, it also gets a health check and a bath. We’ll get some background history from the owners. If it’s a stray, our trainers will assess how it behaves and it will be kept in the quarantine block for seven days. During that time, it will be barrier nursed to make sure that it’s not carrying diseases that could be spread around the centre. After seven days, we’ll start to introduce it to the rest of the kennel population.
       If a dog is fit, healthy and able to cope with the stress of being in the public-eye, we will put it in the public kennels, otherwise it will be housed in the training block. There, it will be cared for by specialist staff and a designated canine cuddler who will sit with it to help it chill out. A behaviourist will slowly teach it to socialise and anyone wishing to adopt these dogs will be gradually introduced in a controlled manner.

Public kennels at Shoreham Dogs Trust
       All the dogs in these kennels have been assessed and are available for immediate rehoming. If someone expresses an interest in adopting one, we’ll request a vet reference, carry out a home visit and ask that they come to the centre several times.  All members of the prospective adoptive family must meet the dog and we’ll invite them to a pre-adoption talk by our behaviourist so that they know what to expect from a rescue dog when it gets home. Before a dog leaves us, it’s microchipped, gets a final health check and a bath.

July’s re-homing figures
We aim to rehome 30-40 dogs a month but the reality is probably nearer 25. Unfortunately, about 10% of the dogs get returned, again for lots of different reasons, sometimes it could be a problem with a cat, a relationship could have broken down or the owner has fallen ill.
Although introducing dogs to prospective adopters is important, it’s only one of our duties. We work 365 days a year and start at 8.00am each day. The first thing we do is check on all the dogs to make sure that there have been no problems overnight. Any will be reported to our full-time vet nurse. We’ll have a de-brief on what needs to be done that day and afterwards we’ll let the dogs out for a toilet, clean them and start their feeds. At 8.30 we’ll start cleaning the kennels and each dog will be given fresh bedding. Throughout the day, the dogs will be exercised and some will be mixed up with other dogs to see how they get along.

Laundry Room 
       The public have donated enough bedding for us to give each dog a fresh duvet, blanket or towel each day and the dirty bedding is washed and dried by volunteers. In the afternoon, the kennels will be tidied again, fresh water provided and at night the dogs will be bedded down.
       During the day, a local vet will undertake any dental treatment or minor operations in our operating theatre. It will be prepared by one of our volunteers who also cleans it afterwards and sits with the dog as it comes round in the recovery kennels.

Operating Theatre and neutering suite

Consultation room

If a new dog arrives during the day, it'll go through the normal procedure so it’ll be de-flead, wormed, given a health check and a bath in our grooming room.
Grooming room. 
       The bathing areas are at various levels to take account of the different size of dogs. Using just one level would be back breaking for our staff.  
       Recently, we bought the lovely land adjacent to the Dogs Trust. This has made a huge difference to the dogs as they can now take a different walk every day and see and smell new things. I think that every moment outside the kennel is precious, so even if we are just walking a dog from one block to another, we try to give it a little bit extra by hanging things from trees and bushes in bird feeders like feathers, sheep’s wool and even wallaby poo. The dogs loved the wallaby poo.

Tracey with Buttons, one of their rehomed dogs.  

       I love my job, but easily the most satisfying part is watching the dogs go to their new homes. Just to see their tails wagging as they cross the car park, thinking they are going on another walk, when instead, it’s the start of their new life and they’re never going to see the kennel again."
       I hope that you have enjoyed this virtual tour and many thanks to Tracey and the Dogs Trust staff for making Tom and I feel so welcome.
       Thanks for dropping by. I'll be back in a fortnight and look forward to seeing you then.


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  2. Hi Portlandoregon Dogtrainers. Thanks for your lovely message and I'm delighted that you enjoyed the blog. Please do share it with your doggie friends with my blessing. Dogs Trust are the best people to approach for further information. If you are local, pop into the Shoreham branch. They are all really friendly and passionate about the dogs in their care. Thanks for reading my blog. Take care.

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