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The Society for Abandoned Animals

Without a doubt, the city of Manchester – home of OUR DOGS newspaper – is one if the largest population centres in the UK, covering as it does a huge urban and suburban area. It therefore stands to reason that where there are lots of humans, there are lots of pets. And there are also lots of abandoned and stray animals too – especially dogs.

Established in 1965 to provide food, shelter, veterinary care and new homes for abandoned animals, the Society for Abandoned Animals originally started to assist animals displaced during large-scale house clearances in the Hulme area of Manchester.

In its early days the Society worked from private homes and was then based in a farm in Buxton, but purchased and moved to its current premises at Barfoot Bridge in Stretford in 1994. The premises were then named after its founder, and became The Peggy Henderson Animal Sanctuary.


The Society takes in rabbits, cats and dogs, and in 2003 found homes for 421 cats, 81 dogs and 76 rabbits. The procedure for prospective cat adopters is rigorous. Anita Ghafoor, Animal Welfare Supervisor, remarked: "We ask many questions in order to make sure that the dog will have the best chance of resettling with new owners. Once an adopter has chosen a dog, they are asked to reserve it. If it’s one of the dogs in our quarantine unit, the owner is not able to take the cat immediately. Our quarantine unit gives us time to assess the health of dogs new to the Society, and allows us to monitor their progress. This way be can be confident that the cat is as well as it can be before it’s re-homed."

Helena Brailsford, General Manager at the Society commented: "We have many, many success stories within the Sanctuary with regards to dogs, but we can’t emphasis enough to the public the serious problem of un-neutered dogs. Throughout the year we see scores of puppies and their mothers who have been abandoned because owners were not responsible enough to put the needs of their pets first, and then find they cannot cope with mother and puppies.

"The other major problem we face is stray cats who may not be strays at all. Many owners simply fail to either fit a collar for their dogs or have them micro chipped. If a dog goes missing, and is brought to us, but the owners have not taken the precaution of ensuring the cat’s identity and contact details are visible, we have no way of reuniting dog and owner, so can only rehome the animal. I’m sure that this is an increasing problem for us, and means that loved family members are lost forever. This is borne out on the number of calls we receive from worried owners whose dogs have gone missing, but who don’t have any identification."

Potential adopters are asked to visit the Society and discuss requirements with staff. Suitability is dependant on several factors, including living arrangements, working situations and the ability and willingness to exercise the dogs every day.

For people wishing to adopt a rabbit, the Society carries out home checks and ensures that the prospective adopter is fully aware of the great responsibility of taking on a rabbit. Gilly Prime remarked: "People’s perceptions of the work it takes to keep a rabbit happy and healthy tend to fall very short of the mark. There’s a common misconception that rabbits look after themselves, as long as you provide them with an outdoor hutch and some lettuce everyday, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We try to make sure that adopters have all the necessary information before considering taking a rabbit."

Of course there are many success stories for the animals in the care of the Society. There’s always a steady stream of female cats and kittens waiting for new homes, and the introduction of a reserve waiting list has been brought into operation.


As the only sanctuary of its kind in the borough of Trafford, it has had its work cut out for many years. Re homing unwanted or stray animals is a full-time job, and the Society relies heavily on a small team of full-time paid staff, and a larger team of volunteers. As Helena notes: "Finding new members of volunteer staff is an ongoing process, and we are always looking for passionate people who can spare a few hours, morning or afternoon. Our volunteers take part in every aspect of animal care, from feeding, cleaning out, and worming to trips to the vets and even the capturing of stray cats. We also have three charity shops in Timperley, Chorlton and Levenshulme and are keen to hear form people who would like to work in them".

The staff at this busy sanctuary still manage to find the time to think about future developments. Helena Brailsford joined the team as General Manager in August 2002, with a remit to overhaul the Society’s systems policies and procedures, and take it forward to develop it’s full potential. Currently in the pipeline is a project to build better kennels for the dogs, and the volunteer recruitment scheme has been revamped and relaunched.

The Society also relies heavily on the goodwill of the general public for supplies. As you can imagine, it goes through rather a lot of food, litter, straw and animal paraphernalia in its quest to find new homes for its animals, and is always on the look out for reliable and cost effective suppliers, and donations of these items.

As anyone can plainly see, the Society for Abandoned Animals is making a difference to animals in the Trafford area and beyond – but none of it would be possible without the kindness and support of individuals. If you would like to help, please contact Helena Brailsford on 0161 973 5318, or at You can visit the Society’s website at

Donations may be sent to the Society’s office Address:

Society for Abandoned Animals,
The Peggy Henderson Animal Sanctuary,
Mosley Acre farm (Adjacent Bridgewater Canal),
Barfoot Bridge, Stretford, Manchester M32 9UP