Mollie, on winning form
A LEADING Border Collie rescue is being threatened with closure at the end of April unless a suitable new location can be found to house the dogs and many other animals currently being looked after there writes Nick Mays.
Wiccaweys Rescued Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs may not be as well known as larger rescues, or charities such as the Dogs Trust or the RSPCA, but it does carry out vital rescue and rehoming work for these breeds that many other charities are simply not geared up to undertake, by providing the specialist help that these active dogs need.
If you've been to an agility show recently, one of Wiccaweys’ rehomed collies will have been competing. Wiccaweys specialises in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming Border Collies. Some have gone on to winning ways within agility circles, whilst others are beloved pets and companions. Minnie, another one of their rescued dogs is now a member of the Leicestershire Fire Service Search and Rescue Team. After her training is complete, Minnie will be travelling all over the world helping to save lives.
"Border Collies come in to us for a variety of reasons," says Sarah Carey, 36, Founder and Co-ordinator of Wiccaweys. "We've taken collies from working homes, pet homes, as well as serious cruelty cases and strays. We also help collies from Ireland, where their prospects of survival when unwanted are very slim. Because of the way we assess the dogs and do things on a one-to-one basis, we're often asked to take dogs from other rescue organisations. Even the large nationally recognised rescues have requested our assistance with dogs they’ve considered impossible to rehome. We live with the dogs, and really get to know their personalities. That's a great advantage because we're able to treat them as individuals, and train them or rehabilitate them according to their exact needs. These collies are in our care for as long as it takes for us to find them exactly the right home."
"It's very important that the right dog goes into the right home," says Paul Gill, 31, part of the Wiccaweys set-up. "A collie with a high drive working instinct in the wrong home is often seen as a 'problem dog', when really they are just misunderstood. A combination of their complex character and the different levels of working instinct make each and every collie a real individual."
Now though, Wiccaweys needs help find a new home of their own. "We've been looking for alternative accommodation for over 9 months now, but no-one is interested as soon as they hear about the rescue," explains Sarah. "Even rural properties that used to be part of the farming community are now refusing to take animals - even if you only have one dog! Most Letting and Estate agents are quite unhelpful. We're getting desperate to find somewhere so our work can continue."
"Sadly, unless we can find somewhere in the next four weeks, Wiccaweys will have to close. Our existing landlord has granted us an extension for April, as we were due to close at the end of March, but time is running short. We're quite unique with the way we work with each and every Collie that arrives with us, and before they leave they really do become part of our family. To get a Wiccaweys dog you must be a very special home! It would be a real shame if we weren't able to do this any more, and we're appealing for any help anyone may be able to give in finding us somewhere new to rent or lease."
Wiccaweys is looking for a property with a little land, where the dogs can be exercised and housed, and most locations in England and Wales will be considered.
Even if the property needs some work, Sarah and Paul have plenty of supporters and volunteers who have offered help and assistance with decorating, and light renovation work. This would be a good opportunity for someone who has an empty rural property that needs renovation work carried out but might not have the funds to be able to do so
The charity’s excellent work has received testimonials from scores of people who have taken on a Wiccaweys Collie, and from other rescue charities that have worked closely with Wiccaweys, such as Niamh Allen of Limerick Animal Welfare, Ireland
"I have had a lot of dealings with Sarah at Wiccaweys and she has helped us out on numerous occasions," says Niamh. "We rescue many collies and collie crosses. Sadly many of theses dogs have been badly abused, and as a result of being ill treated many of them show behavioural problems. However Sarah has taken many such dogs from us and turned their lives around.
"Sarah gives them so much time and care and she teaches them to trust and enjoy life again. Wiccaweys find the dogs wonderful homes and always keeps in touch with us she sends lot of happy photos of the dogs in their new homes. I wish there were more Sarahs and more Wiccaweys in the world!"
Niamh’s praise is echoed by Jean Croydon who took on a Wiccaweys rescue named Herbie: "I adopted young Herbie at 8 weeks old and he was very poorly having had a very sad start to life.
When we took him on we knew that he had wonky eyes and that he was a little bit slow at picking things up, but we didn't care as he was very cute and in desperate need of a permanent home. He is now 18months old and yes, he still has wonky eyes but he is full of mischief and brings a lot of fun into our lives.
"When we went down to see him at Wiccaweys, Sarah gave us quite a tough time as she knew that he had to go to a home that would really care for him because of his many problems. We are very pleased and grateful that she allowed us to take him home. My husband reminds Herbie every time he does something naughty (nearly every day) that we travelled a long way to find him and if he doesn't behave he can pack his toys up and start walking back (100+ miles). His usual answer is to bark and stick his tongue out!
"Wiccaweys do a really good job for very little monetary return, but I would image they get a lots of satisfaction in knowing they are helping some of the thousands of dogs abandoned every year."
Catherine Moore is the founder of District Dogs Rescue in Warrington. She works with a local dog pound and regularly receives support from Wiccaweys with Border Collies in need of assessment.
Says Catherine: "The commitment shown by Wiccaweys to the welfare of Border Collies is exceptional. Many Border Collies suffer in their early days from landing in inexperienced hands, this means that once abandoned it is not possible to rehome them without prior assessment and care, something at which Wiccaweys excels.
"Through their network of experienced foster homes, and the commitment of Sarah and Paul, I have watched many Border Collies grow into balanced and well trained dogs which if this initial training and assessment had not been given may well have had no life at all."The Wiccaweys team have had several good responses to their pleas for foster homes for their animals in case they don't find anywhere else before their tenancy runs out on their current home.
"We've really have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support offered to us," says Sarah. " Even our own dogs will have to go into foster homes until we can find somewhere suitable, and that thought really is heartbreaking."
l Wiccaweys estimate that they've rescued and rehomed hundreds of Border Collies over the years, and want to continue this work to help hundreds more. If you can help them find new premises, contact Sarah or Paul on 07905 203254, or contact them through the website at www.bordercollierescue.co.uk