Coronavirus is so much more than a health-related problem. It’s altering the way we live our lives and even, as ANDREW MOSLEY discovers, putting the work of animal charities such as Rotherham Dog Rescue at risk
WHILE all around is silent, the noise at the kennels at Rotherham Dog Rescue is still the same.
Eleven kennels, 11 long-term residents, all needing a roof over their heads, all needing food. All barking.
As fundraising events have been postponed due to the coronavirus and the awarding of grants has dried up, the charity is facing its biggest crisis in its 20-year existence.
The dogs at Vale Boarding Kennels in Warren Vale, Rawmarsh, are not just looked after.
They are residents who have had difficulties being matched up with families, had problems with their owners’ lifestyles and are in need of rehabilitation, understanding and the expertise on offer at Rotherham Dog Rescue. Some will remain there all their lives.
Canine psychologist Lisa Park has been at the kennels since just after they opened and says the aim is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abandoned, abused and unwanted dogs into forever homes.
She said: “It is a very strange time as we can’t do viewings of the dogs with people and we don’t just drop dogs off and say ‘there you go’.
“That’s not how we work — we need to see how the relationship works between the dog and the people.
“The main thing though is the fundraising. Our volunteers can’t go out collecting or fundraising and we still have to pay for the rent of the kennels, of which there are 11, each with raised beds, so there is no draught.
“They are £5 each a night. It’s a big commitment every month.
“We do fine with donations of food, but we don’t get the grants like we used to as they are now normally awarded for the funding of specific projects.”
Lisa said homing a dog was quite complex as the charity did not believe in simply leaving a dog with a family that wanted to adopt.
“We make sure the people are understanding and right for the dog and the dog is right for them, and their lifestyles have to match. It’s not just any home, it has to be the right home.
“Because some of the dogs struggle in a home environment with a family we provide as much of that as we can in the kennels so that if they do spend their life with us, it is a good one.”
At the moment Lisa says the kennels are housing a mix of dogs from Staffordshire crosses and a Husky crossed with a Staffie to Shih Tzus and an Akita cross.
As well as the accommodation for the dogs there are offices and two large fenced off areas, with one of these being an agility paddock for keeping dogs occupied and stimulated.
One dog to benefit from the paddock was Ralph, who was rescued by Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.
Sarah said: “Two years ago, my Border Terrier died suddenly and I needed to find a companion for my remaining dog, Dave. I contacted Rotherham Dog Rescue and they were absolutely brilliant.
“As well as rescuing dogs, usually those no other centre will take, they also carry out extensive behaviour training. The training is not just for the dog, but for prospective owners too.
“They wanted to meet me and Dave to understand us and see how a new dog could fit in.
“Once they felt they knew us, they matched us with Ralph, a Lhasa Apso who had been passed around rescue centres for six years, largely because he bites!
“I think Rotherham Dog Rescue had given up finding a home for Ralph and had accepted that they would look after him for the rest of his days, but we clicked and he has been a wonderful addition to our pack.
“I won’t say it has been easy, but Lisa, the dog behaviourist, is always on the end of a phone to help when problems arise, which has been invaluable.
“Both Dave and I adore Ralph and I will always be hugely grateful to the team at Rotherham Dog Rescue for such wonderful match-making.”
Lisa added: “Sarah and Ralph were a perfect match. He was struggling but really benefited form the agility paddock.
“It is so important we have these facilities. Ralph had missed out on having fun and the facilities here really brought him out.
“He’s a real go getter and is a really happy dog now.”
To donate or find out more go to www.rotherhamdogrescue.co.uk, visit their Facebook page at Rotherham Dog Rescue or call 07912 146587.