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