The Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary

The Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary
3 Templemans Ash,
DT6 5NX.

About Us
We provide forever homes for domestic, farm and wildlife animals
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A Bit More About Us
We have approximately 150 animals which includes over 100 dogs
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Happy Beginnings
At The Sanctuary there are no endings, just Happy New Beginnings.
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Realising A Dream
Our Dream Becomes Reality And All Because Of You
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From The Heart
The 'Nobody Dogs' and the sanctuary
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  • About Us
  • A Bit More About Us
  • Happy Beginnings
  • Realising A Dream
  • From The Heart

Healing Hugo's Heart

Meet Hugo...


Hugo was saved from his life on a chain by Nicola Brooks-Belcher at Last Hope Rescue. He was doing well in rescue but then started to shut down as some dogs do and he needed help but he was too volatile and damaged for a domestic home. Given his past and reactions, his options were also severely limited and there was simply no where else for him to go so we agreed to give him a place of his own here at the Sanctuary. 

We needed to buy him a new house and thanks to Nicola, Claire Marsh and New Hope Rescue's amazing Supporters, Moz Kingston and Doods Place Rehoming Page members, Pat Myers, Sally Cottrell, Sally Marie Crocker, Lucy Bastafield and Carole Haskins of The Team Keisha Fund Raising Group and their amazing supporters and a very good friend who also donated, Hugo got his home here with us.

This lad needed some time to wind down, and readjust to a new way of living in a house, with food, warmth and things of his own which is a massive culture shock from living on a chain with nothing, not even a house or shelter and would take time to adapt to, to feel safe in and then relish and enjoy. A sanctuary life for Hugo means he has his own warm and cosy den, a relaxed happy home and safety forever for the rest of his life. He has all the time he needs to heal from the damage the world has done to him and to be safe whilst he learns a new life and a new way of being. We will work with him so that he can become the dog he was always meant to be as he relaxes into the love of The Sanctuary where he will be treasured for the rest of his days.


His first week was a quiet one, settling into his den, taking in the yard goings on and starting to find his feet a little. Over the first week he went from little reaction, interest or participation in the yard goings on to starting to come alive, wagging his tail at Joy which was wonderful, and even more wonderful to joining in with the morning sing song with the rest of the yard . Hugo doesn't know any other life except for the confinement of a chain, as horrible as it may seem, that had always been his safety net, his friend. Part of the work Joy is doing with him is to help him accustom himself to not being tethered, to teach him that he is safe without his chain and to help him cope with some space. So initially he was given a small space and over time as he is less reactive, less unsure his space will slowly be increased and eventually he will have a full sized area. Hugo is a very large and powerful animal and it is key that Hugo and Joy are both safe, and so slowly his world will grow bigger as his trust and faith in Joy grows.


Joy spent the next two weeks building a partnership with him, and slowly getting into his run and gaining his trust as his provider and carer. Gradually his cheeky side emerged and he got a glint back in his eye. He allowed Joy further into his run and she was able to hand feed him treats in his bed, rather than through the bars. Thankfully he likes his run clean so he has been fine with the routine of cleaning and tidying each day. And each day has seen progress in his confidence and trust.

When he was at Last Hope Simon Belcher taught him the commands of a working dog and they both felt that Hugo would benefit and flourish with a role at the sanctuary. So Simon came down and helped Joy to get him out for a walk and they spent some time going through those commands and generally building a link with Hugo on the lead. He loved being out and about and he and Joy now have the basis to move forward as a team and he has the role which is so important for his breed. Their time together will now be spent out walking and free playing in the play area and boundary walking and checking perimeters which is a job Hugo understands and enjoys.


Gradually his heart is healing and he and Joy are now out for walks every day and he is brighter and more relaxed in himself and feeling better after a week of antibiotics to clear up a dose of the sniffles. 


Joy feels very privileged to have made a link and partnership with such a majestic dog and although they still have a long way to go, she is excited by the progress Hugo has made and by what an amazing journey it will be.

Hugo & Joy
A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

We would like to thank all of you that helped to bring Hugo home to us and those who continue to support the awe inspiring work Joy is doing with these animals who have run out of chances x


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One By One Until There Are None

"If you have received love from an animal in your life then you are very lucky. Give back a little to this fantastic trust and see what YOU can do to make a huge difference. Love, shelter, healthcare and food. What an amazing gift you can give. Do it today. Thank you so much."

Helen LLoyd