Wiccaweys founders Sarah Carey and Paul Gill with one of the many Border Collies
they have successfully rescued and rehomed.
IT'S NOT been a great start to 2007 for Wiccaweys, the voluntary group specialising in rescuing and rehoming border collies and working sheepdogs.
On December 30th, thieves broke down gates and fencing and stole a mechanical digger from the property, leaving the main rescuers Sarah Carey and her partner Paul Gill, feeling very vulnerable about safety and security for themselves and the dogs in their care.
Just one week later came the news that their application for Change of Use planning permission had been refused by the local council, effectively threatening the rescue with closure. The council have stipulated that Sarah and Paul may not use the land or buildings for housing any dogs and that they may not operate as a dog rescue.
Even though the land’s owner should have applied for permission or advised Sarah and Paul accordingly when he leased them the land and buildings in 2005, or that the rescue has been operating for over a year, the council are refusing to reconsider the matter at this time
Sarah, Paul and the devoted army of Wiccaweys volunteers are pushing hard to try to keep the rescue running.
An appeal has gone out for foster homes for the dogs, donations and any ideas on how to find and buy a suitable property for the group to use as a base. This would not be an easy task at the best of times, but the council have set a time limit of 28 days.
Paul said: ‘We’ve been told that after 28 days – the end of this month - there must be no rescue dogs on the premises. There must be no foster dogs of any kind. We will not be allowed to have visitors come to visit dogs to adopt. We will not be allowed to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome ANY dogs.’
There is an option for Sarah and Paul to appeal against the planning decision, but, even if this were to go ahead, the restrictions would still be in force during the appeals process, effectively stopping the group from doing any rescue work.
Border Collies do not cope well with kennel situations, and many other rescue groups turn to Wiccaweys for support with these dogs. Without them some of the dogs now happily living with new families would have been put to sleep. Wiccaweys has rescued and rehomed many dogs who would be considered too old by some other groups, and has no time limits on how long a dog can stay while work is done on retraining, socialising and getting the dogs fit and healthy before they are adopted by their forever homes.
The rescue feel the only long term solution is to find alternative premises, preferably in the Midlands, to buy. This will take a mammoth fundraising effort, but they are committed to continuing the excellent work they do in saving these beautiful dogs, and rehabilitating them so they are able to find the right home to live out their lives.
Paul added: ‘On the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, they rebuild a whole house in 7 days. Can we all pull out the stops and get a place for Wiccaweys within 28?’
For the sake of all those border collies, and the other dogs Wiccaweys works so hard to help, I for one certainly hope they can.
l If you'd like more information about the group, or feel you could offer help or support, please contact them via their website at www.wiccaweys.co.uk