I started the Birkett - Smith Animal Sanctuary a couple of years ago on my smallholding in Dorset and formalised as a registered Charity not long after.
Here at The Sanctuary we provide forever homes for domestic, farm and wildlife animals.
Most have behavioural issues, are aggressive, old, disabled, human scared etc.
So we basically take in the animals that stand little or no chance of gaining homes let alone the security of a forever home.
Our 150 animals include dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, horses, all farm birds, emus and even a seagull!
We are also one of the the very few UK sanctuaries that will take aggressive and fear aggressive dogs as we have a no kill policy full stop. We rehabilitate these animals as much as we can over time to enable them to achieve a happy life here at the sanctuary.
I'm not classed as a rescue but I am a rescuer and that is the other side of our sanctuary. Last year I noticed that there was a huge gap in the system, dogs needed somewhere to recover. The poundies and the failed rescue dogs needed another option for another chance and in most cases a last chance. They needed a chance at living, a chance at rehab in order to be able to go into a home, some for the first time, some to start over and this is where the idea for SOS Havens was born. I had the space, I had the ability and the passion and I was already rehabilitating our sanctuary dogs so I extended my reach and opened the sanctuary to UK rescues. The SOS Havens give them a place of safety and a place where whatever their reactions they are accepted. A place where whatever their issues they are given time, time to link in and to enable them to face the world again but a new world under the protection of their rescues with lifetime RBU after rehab. There are few dogs that can’t be re-homed in time, there are some that could be but are safer due to their strength or issues to not go back into a domestic environment simply because thier safety can’t be guaranteed but there are many more that can safely move into foster after rehab and continue their journey to their forever sofa. Unfortunately most of these dogs are beyond the remit of normal rescues and sadly many of them are put to sleep before they get the chance to mend. I work with these damaged dogs, along side my own sanctuary dogs to install faith in them and glue them all back together with love and care until they are whole again and to show the world that it is possible to undo what others have done to them. They leave here with new skills and thier rescues gain the knowledge needed to help them move onto the next step in thier journey. The SOS Havens have become a last chance for many, the final hope.
Due to the nature of the animals we have, their care can be intensive and very costly and it all takes time and volunteers and without our Birkett - Smith Family this would not be possible. So please join us with our auctions and projects as slowly one by one we take in animals to safety.
Joy Keys xx
We are The Birkett~Smith Animal Sanctuary and we are unique in the UK as we are the largest sanctuary to take in both human and dog aggressive dogs and rehabilitate them. We have a large number of animals which includes just over 100 dogs, all of whom have their forever homes here with us. We also have SOS Rehabilitation spaces for UK rescues and owners seeking a place of safety and rehab for behaviourally affected dogs. In most cases this unique service offers them their last chance to gain help for animals which would otherwise be put to sleep.
The dogs we take in here at the sanctuary have ranging in depth issues: behaviour, aggression, age, disability, fear of humans and/or other dogs, guarding issues etc and some have been subjected to severe neglect, cruelty and abuse. The bottom line is we basically take the animals that stand little or no chance of gaining homes let alone the security of a forever home and we work with them to try to turn them around. We used our experience and extended our reach and started the SOS Havens in 2016 to provide a much needed service and a lifeline for rescues and thier at risk dogs needing safety and rehabilitation.
Our aim is to always get them back out again on their journey having been fully assessed and worked on, and with so that their rescues know the dogs inside out and back to front to make sure they go somewhere safely. Since we started we have been overwhelmed with requests from rescues to take in desperate dogs who have simply run out of chances and have nowhere left to go and our spaces are always full. We charge rescue an SOS Rehab fee which covers their care and rehabilitation and once (and if) the dogs are ready to be re-homed their rescue gives full rescue back up. Dogs like Navi:
Navi had not had an easy time and developed a few issues, she needed sanctuary, peace and space. But Navi needed a very special place where she could be given a last chance; without that last chance Navi's time would have run out despite the best efforts of the rescue that originally saved her. The Sanctuary SOS Haven was a lifesaver for Navi and she was funded by her rescue whilst we rehabilitated her. She did very well and bagged herself her forever home with a family that adore her.
The sheer number of requests we have received from rescues over the years for SOS spaces is sad testament to the over-breeding/throwaway attitude and abuse towards animals that has become more prevalent in the UK and the need for these spaces is more apparent than ever. In 2016 we worked hard to raise the funds to build more, upgrade our existing facilities and re-build the sanctuary and we now have 23 rehabilitation spaces which are all full and we always have a long list of rescues awaiting a space for thier dogs.
In 2018 we expanded our remit again and officially became The Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary and Canine Rehabilitation Centre to also help private owners with residential rehab stays for their issued dogs and we have never been so busy. We could fill the spaces one hundred times over and still the phone never stops ringing! But the hard work is worth it, seeing a dog relax into the safety of the sanctuary is our motivation and seeing the dogs thrive and become the loving creatures they were before society dealt them a rough hand is what drives us. Seeing them safely back home or into a forever home is what our dreams are made of.Rehabilitation Info
The Birkett~Smith Animal Sanctuary was founded by Joy Keys in 2011 on a smallholding in Dorset and formalised as a registered Charity not long after.
We are one of the the very few UK sanctuaries that will take aggressive and fear aggressive dogs and we rehabilitate these animals as much as we can over time to enable them to enjoy their forever home here with us or to go back out into the world with new skills. We provide forever homes for just over 100 dogs, a few cats and some farm animals including sheep, horses, geese and chickens. Our animals have behavioural issues, are aggressive, old, disabled, human scared, reacative etc...so we basically take the animals that stand little or no chance of gaining homes let alone the security of a forever home.
Dogs Like Gracie:
Gracie came to us in January 2018 after being ‘discarded’ at the pound....we cried when she arrived from EB because she was such a dead eyed, sad little girl who did not really understand human touch at all and was very nervous of strangers. She was nine years old, underweight and ate every meal that Joy gave her like it was her last. We named her Gracie...it just seemed to suit her. It was very clear she had had a horrible time, was highly under socialised and had the potential to bite if pushed. We had some hope that she might be able to go into a special home and Joy worked really hard with her to improve a lot of her problems but she just would not fit into a conventional home so home became the sanctuary for her. She is very relaxed and happy here and we absolutely adore her. She loves the staff, her walks and toys but the thing at the very top of her list is a bowl of cheesy scrambled eggs.
In 2016 we undertook a new project to build SOS Safe Havens for human/dog reactive/aggressive dogs. For the previous year the sanctuary had been unofficially sheltering short term dogs who were at risk at nil charge for reputable rescuers and it soon became clear that there was a huge gap in the rescue chain as the demand for the SOS spaces increased exponentially. We fundraised to build the SOS Safe Havens and expanded the Sanctuary to accomodate this 'Rest Bite' housing. We started with 5 short to medium term spaces for professional rescues/rescuers that needed to get dogs to safety as a stopover before a new placement. Due to the nature of the animals we have, their care can be intensive, time consuming and very costly. We are unable to re-home our dogs due to their bahaviours etc and cannot open to the public due to the nature of the animals on site therefore we do not have the income of a rescue from adoption fees (minimal as that may be) so we continually fund raise to cover the huge day to day running costs of the Sanctuary and had to work hard to raise the extra funds needed for the SOS project. However, we managed to stage build the 'Rest Bite Housing' over just 6 months but demand soon outstripped us and we had to expand again. We eventually built another 23 spaces that have and will continue to save dogs lives over and over in the years to come and created our BSAS Rehabilitation Centre. The Sanctuary subsidises the rehab centre but we now charge a minimal fee for Rehab Stays so it acts as a self funding arm for the sanctuary. Building these facilities allowed us to be here in a totally unique capacity to provide SOS rehab for rescues and owners who are desperate to find a last chance for dogs that have a range of issues.
Our force free rehabilitation methods were already second nature and built into daily life at the sanctuary with our own dogs so it was natural to extend our hand to others. With no expectation or pressure the rehab dogs begin to feel safe and secure and re-establish human contact in order to move forward in a place of total safety.
And as we move forward and continue to save more and more lives and help more and more last chance dogs through rehabilitation we hope that you will continue to give us your support...without you our road to helping these dogs would be almost impossible to tread.
Please walk with us and help us hold the paws that need us the most x