The Birkett~Smith Animal Sanctuary was founded a few years ago on a smallholding in Dorset and formalised as a registered Charity not long after.
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 the animals that stand little or no chance or gaining homes let alone the security of a forever home.
Our c200 animals include dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, horses, all farm birds, emus and even a seagull! We are 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 rehabillitate these animals as much as we can over time to enable them to enjoy their forever homes.
Due to the nature of the animals we have their care can be intensive, timely and very costly.
In 2016 we undertook to build SOS SAFE HAVENS for human/dog reactive/aggressive dogs. 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. We had been unofficially sheltering short term dogs who were at risk for the previous year at nil charge for reputable rescuers and with there being an ever increasing demand for SOS spaces, we decided to fundraise and expand the Sanctuary to accomodate this 'Rest Bite' housing. Our experience of such dogs is built on a foundation of 75 UK/European aggressive/ reactive dogs we already have here in Sanctuary, all progressing gradually into the dogs they can become.
Our rehab methods ensure that with no expectation or pressure, the dogs begin to feel safe and secure and re-establish human contact; this is daily life at the sanctuary. We have on-site air lock system boundaries and high security for the dog yards, CCTV, substantial play areas, on-site live capture darting and sedation, experienced veterinary treatment at hand from Girling and Bowditch Veterinary Practice and daily rehab to bring the dogs forward in a place of total safety.
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 already 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 and now have 23 spaces including individual heated dens with concrete flooring, galvanised panels to the sides and roof, padlocked security gates, external perimeter fences and multiple slabbed all weather play areas. Building these new facilities has allowed us to be here in a totally unique capacity to provide SOS back up for rescues and these 23 very, very special spaces will continue to save dogs lives over and over in the years to come. Out of the 23 spaces, we have two spaces reserved for emergency at risk dogs and currently operate 14-15 spaces for SOS to ensure all the dogs get the work and commitment they need. And of course we have some dogs that come for short stay rehab but it then becomes clear that they need permanent sanctuary; dogs like Dexter..
Dexter is one of our permanent residents who came in as an SOS rehab but needed to stay with us permanently and live in a controlled environment because although he adores people and loves cuddles he does not like other dogs so the domestic world is not safe for Dex due to his size and strength.
He initially lived in one of our SOS spaces until we had managed to fund-raise for a new space all his own...well to share with his plastic chickens and ducks whom he LOVES!