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The Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary

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“You are the last hope for my dog”

Last Hope

Sorry is not the hardest word...no is...

These days if you type 'aggressive dog rescue' into Google BSAS is one of the first sites to come up. If an aggressive or 'no hope' dog gets posted on Facebook BSAS is usually tagged multiple times. The website gets desperate emails every day all day and the FB Page is messaged constantly. The opening sentence is nearly always "You are the last hope for my dog"  and when you are full every word of every message from the first line to the last is like a knife in the gut because you know at the heart of it is a living, breathing, loving, abused or misunderstood animal who won't be around tomorrow because you can't offer that hope, because you are full and because you have to say no....

To say it's been a very busy time over the last year at The Sanctuary would be a huge understatement. We have gained some extreme cases and lost some of our very much loved permanent family residents and all the while we have been busy with our rehabilitation service as well as expanding, building and refurbishing. 

Over the last twelve months we have taken on some extremely complex, difficult dogs who simply would not be here if we had not found them a space...not for a week, a month or even a year...we take them for all of their life so it's a big commitment and one we have to think very carefully about before we make and choosing one dog over another, deciding who needs us most is always distressing. It's easy to mark a dog as 'safe' but for us the work and financial responsibility has only just started and carries on for the whole of thier lives. 

In April of this year due to lack of space and manpower and for the sake of the dogs we already have we took the difficult decision to close our doors to permanent intakes and we've continued to operate on a one in one out basis since then. But that does not stop the desperate messages, the tags and the emails. We have 150 permanent Sanctuary dogs at BSAS and each dog is a special case which requires special attention and perhaps something that most don't realise when they are berating us for not being able to take a dog is that apart from the help of a couple of volunteers and and a small key team, Joy does most of the work on her own and she works from the crack of dawn until well after dusk every day of every month all year to make sure that every dog has human interaction, is fed, watered and exercised. She rarely takes time out, she doesn't have holidays and she spends her 'spare time' taking phone calls, answering tags, emails and messages and offering advice where she can but it's never enough is it when you are the 'last hope'. 

And we are not alone, the pressure for everyone in rescue is phenomenal at the moment, the numbers of animals needing help seems to have increased 100 fold with rescues and sanctuaries full to bursting and the constant pleas and demands to save and take dogs is not only heartbreaking but quite honestly enormously stressful; to know you are the last resort before a dog is put to sleep is a pressure that is impossible to explain and it's so incredibly hard to say no. The bottom line is that abuse, abandonment and dogs developing issues are on the rise in the UK and until that changes sanctuaries and rescues will remain full and hope will remain thin on the ground.

With the help of our amazing supporters who are the real heartbeat of the Sanctuary, we have gone above and beyond and done our very, very best this past year to redress the balance and help as many as we can. We cannot express how deeply we hurt for all those we can't take, the ones we can't save. If we could we would take every single one because all life matters to us and every dog no matter how deep it's problems deserves a chance. All we can do is continue to move forward responsibly and concentrate on helping the ones we can; focusing inwards and giving them the time and care, love and rehabilitation they need fulfilling our promise of hope to them. 

Here are just some of the 'No Hope' dog's we have given sanctuary to in the last twelve months: Bow, Zoe, China, Duke, Elma, Gabe, Hobo, Marmite, Peggy, Chucky and Alice. Neo, Angel, Hera, Gracie, Angel, Sausage, Lulu & Lucy, Kujo, Diablo and Frazer.

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The BSAS Canine Behaviour Rehabilitation Centre

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