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

Today We Lost Our Lion

We healed Hugo's heart but today losing him broke ours...

Today we lost our beautiful boy Hugo...a majestic lad with the heart and pride of a lion. He had developed an air block in his stomach overnight as a secondary issue and we sadly had to let him go over rainbow bridge this morning. Saved by Nicola Brooks-Belcher and Simon Belcher of Last Hope from a life on a chain he moved to The Sanctuary earlier this year for his forever home. Forever was sadly so short a time with us but he is so loved and leaves a big whole in the hearts of Nic, Simon, Joy and everyone who ever met him.


Hugo was saved from his life on a chain and 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 Last 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 where he would be treasured for the rest of his days.

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 was a massive culture shock from living on a chain with nothing, not even a house or shelter and took time to adapt to and then relish and enjoy. A sanctuary life for Hugo meant he had his own warm and cosy den, a relaxed happy home and safety forever for the rest of his life. He had all the time he needed to heal from the damage the world had done to him and to be safe whilst he learned a new life and a new way of being.

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 didn'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 did with him was to help him accustom himself to not being tethered, to teach him that he was 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 was less reactive, less unsure and his space was slowly increased and eventually he was moved to a full sized area.

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 and each day we saw 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 had the basis to move forward as a team and he had the role which is so important for his breed. Their time together was spent out walking and free playing in the play area and boundary walking and checking perimeters which is a job Hugo understood and enjoyed. Gradually his heart healed and he and Joy went out for walks every day and he was brighter and more relaxed in himself and they had developed a bond which ensured Hugo knew he was loved. 


Joy feels very privileged to have made a link and partnership with such a majestic dog and although their time together was cut so short and the hole he has left is so big, she is grateful to have been a part of his amazing journey.

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, we know each and every one of you will feel his loss.

Sleep well big fella xxxx


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One By One Until There Are None

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Helen LLoyd