A day in the life...

 Registered Charity no: 1152935

Behind the scenes at Safe and Sound

8.30am I haven’t had breakfast, or a shower, but there is no time for that.  After walking my own dogs in my PJs, I sit down at my computer and stare at the faces of the five desperate dogs I know will die within 48 hours... unless I do something.

Yesterday I turned on my PC to find emails from four different dog wardens pleading for help to save healthy dogs they have no choice but to put to sleep. Despite sending nearly 40 emails to rescue contacts yesterday, I’ve not had one reply.  Leaving my tea to go cold, I get on the phone to every rescue contact I can think of begging for help.

Dog 1 is Roxy, an 7 year old brindle Bullmastiff female,who was left at a police station by a family fleeing domestic violence. She is terrified of men due to her background and as a result, no local rescue wants to help her.  She dies in 36 hours.

Dog 2 is Huey
, a red and white staffordshire bull terrier male, of around 2-3 years.  The dog warden tells me she can find nothing ‘wrong with him and no excuse to put him to sleep. Her voice cracks as she tells me "he’s just perfect". He dies in 24 hours.

Dog 3 is Pumpkin, an emaciated brindle staffy puppy of around 12 months. The dog warden tells me she has tried every local rescue, but no rescue will take Pumpkin because he is “too skinny to appeal to adopters” and he would struggle in the kennel environment. He dies in two days.

Dog 4 is Archie, a polkadot staffordshire bull terrier male of 5 years. He looks just like a seal pup.  Like the other dog wardens, the gentleman who contacts me for help says Archie is "a true gentleman and a shining example of his breed". He is clearly upset when he tells me he can find no reason to destroy Archie but that no rescue will take him and he has been unable to find him a home himself.

Dog 5 is Beanie
. Another staffie male, of about 2 years old.  A pretty white dog with red markings.  He is at the same pound as Pumpkin and has a one-way vet appointment booked for 10.40 the following morning.

9.20am I get an email back from a rescue I know well, saying they have no room, but will take in Archie... somehow. I do a little dance, before getting back on the phone to the Dog Warden to tell him to cancel the vet as I’ve got Archie into a rescue. My next job is to look at the map and begin planning Archie’s journey to safety. It is only a 100 mile journey across two counties - some of our transport runs are over 300 miles - so I breathe a sigh of relief and get cracking.

10.10am Phone call from Huey’s dog warden. She is holding back the tears as she tells me that no rescues have taken any of her strays for many months now. They just don’t have room. She is at her wits end.  Her voice quivvers as she thanks me for agreeing to help. My own eyes well up and I splutter “I won’t let him die” before composing myself and getting the details I need from her.  

Then it’s back on the phone to yet more rescues - and yet more “No, sorry, we can’t help”.

11.45 am Speak to my colleague about the possibility of pulling all 4 dogs from the pound and putting them into emergency boarding. She sighs and reminds me that our account is almost empty. We have already spent £400 this week moving dogs to rescue and paying for emergency veterinary treatment. We will just about manage to cover their petrol bills but that is it.

I feel a bit sick. I have less than 48 hours now. The vet’s needles are at the ready.
I blink back the tears and carry on...

2.30 pm I have spent the last 2 hours emailing rescues - most of them are rescues who ignored my first desperate plea, but what can I do?  So I stalk, and I hope... "Someone must be able to help", I tell myself....

Yet I know it is the summer holidays, that boarding kennels are full, and that most rescuers will be reading my emails with tears in their eyes, knowing they have no choice but to say “no”.

3.15pm I still haven’t eaten, and have just noticed that my fridge is empty. All I ate yesterday was a bowl of muesli, but with the last of the milk gone, that isn’t an option any more. I really should go to the shops - but can I justify spending 3 hours at the supermarket, when these dogs have less than 24 hours to live? I carry on typing. There must be rescues I haven’t tried yet.

3.45pm Come back to several messages from one of our regular pounds, asking if I have any news on rescue spaces for the dogs being held there.

I am ashamed to say I’ve not done anything with these dogs in two days, and that I have pushed them tothe bottom of my list whilst I deal with the dogs at imminent risk, so I act vague and say “Nothing definite”. 

I just don’t have room in my head to think about the 25 or so other ‘urgent rescue spaces’ I am supposed to be finding this week.

4.50pm The phone rings. I jump up and rush to over. It is Trudie, a fellow rescuer I contacted begging for help. She tells me she has 24 dogs (mostly staffies) in the same situation and no money to help them. I promise her that once I have sorted these 5 (and the other 25 further down my list) I will try and help her with hers. It’s a lie, but I don’t know what else to say.

5.30pm Back on the phone, this time with helpful contributions from Cocoa, who would like her mummy to get off the phone and pay her some attention. I look down at Teddie Bruno, and realise that I haven’t stroked him since we came back from our walk this morning. More tears. My own dogs don’t deserve this. I back away from my desk and head back to the park.

7.30pm Feeling quite faint now, it’s 36 hours since I last ate. I go back to the fridge. It’s still empty. There just 
isn’t time. I find a takeaway menu down the back of a drawer and call the number...

8.20pm At least now I’ve eaten. I log into Facebook and find a message from a rescue friend. She has a foster home available for Huey.  The skin around my eyes stings as I blink away the tears again.

Halfway through writing a ‘thank you message’ it all gets too much.  I just can’t find the words.

9.15pm The computer screen is blurry. And not with tears. I am so tired my eyes have started playing tricks on me. The words dance about the page and things seem to merge into each other. But I can’t stop. Beanie will be dead in the morning.I don’t know what else to do. I have sent every email I can send. Phoned every number I have. Nothing.

11.40pm Bedtime. 8 hours where I pretend to rest. The dogs faces seem to pattern the ceiling. I feel their fear.... Lights out.  Another day....


Roxy spent several months in emergency boarding, funded by Safe and Sound.  She eventually moved to a  large breed rescue and has since found a new home.

Huey was placed with TAG Pet Rescue in Kent.  He has since been rehomed and is now living out in the Kent countryside, with his very own stream to play in.

Pumpkin also went to Kent rescue TAG.  He is currently in foster building up his strength.  Pumpkin still has a long way to go before he can be considered 'recovered' and well enough to be rehomed but he is getting better every day.

Archie was placed with Lincolnshire rescue the Alternative Animal Sanctuary, where he lived in foster with 30 other dogs as housemates.  Archie has since found a home of his own.

Beanie is now called Cooper.  He went to a small rescue in Scotland and has recently found his forever home.