DUN-ROAMIN’ – SMALL CHARITY, BIG MESSAGE!
By Ann Evans
With so many stray, abandoned and unwanted dogs, it’s a constant struggle for animal welfare charities to cope with the never ending stream of dogs who are in need of new homes through no fault of their own.
Back in 2008 a change in legislation meant that the local authorities were responsible for stray and abandoned dogs, rather than the police. Dun Roamin Rehoming, a Midlands based rehoming charity was created with this change in law in mind. It was founded by dog lover Ian Webb, a dog warden for many years, and the charitable work began shortly after the business arm – Dun-Roamin’ Stray Dog Collection & Animal Service.
In 2014 Dun-Roamin’ Rehoming became a registered charity in its own right and stands alone as an organisation although intrinsically linked to Dun-Roamin’ Specialist Dog Consultancy which is a new behavioural arm created to replace the dog warden work.
Founder, Ian Webb explained, “The aim of this change was to help genuine people further up the chain with their dog problems, to save them becoming a stray in the first place rather than sweep them up at the bottom of the chain when the owner has given up.”
Despite its media presence and work load, Dun-Roamin’ as a whole have a very small team of staff. The rescue itself has one employee whilst Ian does all the admin work as the trustee and all in his own time, as well as operating the Specialist Dog Consultancy from his own income.
“There is a committee to answer to who also assist with fund raising,” added Ian. “And we have a number of trusted volunteers who do our dog walking and of course our rescue dogs are looked after on a daily basis (feeding and cleaning) by the staff of Witherley Boarding Kennels and Cattery whom we rent out kennels off.”
Ian explained that his years of working as a dog warden for various local authorities underpins everything else that he and his team have done and continue to do. “The very reason for its conception was one very scared and timid young Staffordshire Bull Terrier who I saw in the holding kennels in my first week as dog warden back in 2005. This dog had been kennelled prior to my start and so was some way into his statutory 7 days. I peered into his kennels and saw him curled up in the corner and was completely ignorant to my communication, as if he had simply shut down. After questioning the third parties who dealt with the dogs after their 7 days, I realised the very sad fate of this poor creature and despite my best attempts, this came to pass.
“You tend to know on the first or second day of kennelling which dogs would be claimed and which would not and subsequently be euthanised 7 days later. I decided that I could not live with that knowledge and so instead I would re-invest the monies made as a dog warden to save those souls.”
Ian continued: “The dog warden system back then – before my time, was carried out very much behind closed doors and with a mentality of ‘what they don’t know, can’t hurt them’ which is why so many people are still unaware of what occurs on a daily basis. It was my aim to change things from the inside and bring things to the forefront, making people very much aware of the system and all its inner working, and let them be part of the process making have been fully informed.
“Ten years on and sadly stray dogs are still being destroyed in their droves after their 7 days holding period. This is for a number of reasons but from a local authority perspective, it would be down to mainly cost and time. Sourcing a rescue space for these dogs is a full time job in itself with rescues up and down the land over run, working on a one in – one out basis, full to the brim, with waiting lists of more dogs to come in. And for a local authority, waiting for a space could mean weeks or months of them being cared for in ill equipped premises and all at their cost.
“It is my opinion that there are simply too many dogs in this country and I believe that if all dogs alive were known of and accounted for then there would be at least one dog to every two homes.
Unfortunately if you do not address the problems at source then the rescues simply become a broom to sweep up the mess at the end of the line, no matter how many are in operation, and what’s more, is that if the public are aware that you save and re-home your stray dogs then it actively encourages people to dump their own pets as ‘stray’ exacerbating your problem rather than discouraging people from this route.”
Asked about the most problematic part of his work, Ian added, “This has to be financial. We work very differently to many other rescues and deal with many dogs that others would not touch. This is a result of the knowledge I gained from shadowing a behaviourist in the early years and building on this knowledge subsequently. Therefore I am happy and confident in all of the systems that are in place and rehoming continues to grow in success with very few failed re-homes and almost zero euthanisations. However, when dealing with these kinds of dogs, they can spend weeks and months in our care and all at cost as well as the hefty veterinary bills that are inevitable. You need to bring in so much money simply to stand still let alone move forward, one of the main reasons I feel that we have somewhat stagnated over the past year or so and why we still have minimal staff.”
The Dun-Roaming organisations work hand in hand with the tag line of educating people about responsible dog ownership. Ian added, “We re-home dogs written off by many others – including dog professionals, and prove them wrong by successfully placing them. This is all backed up with support and knowledge and a philosophy that is still very new in the dog world, something we hope to change, person by person or dog by dog. We prove that often these dogs are not what you think they are and elsewhere, needlessly die. It is only through changing peoples’ understanding will the bigger problems ultimately be changed.”
He concluded: “To all dog owners – be proactive in your ownership. Think about all of the things you leave yourselves open to with your current approach and the ramifications. Take it from someone who has seen all the bad things that can happen, simply being re-active is often too late.”
Dun Roamin’s dogs are boarded at Witherley Kennels and Cattery, Witherley, Leicestershire and viewing is by appointment only. Call Laura, the centre manager on 07854 743726.
For more information on the work of Dun-Roaming, and to see if there’s a dog in their care who you could give a loving forever home to; or to donate or help fund raise, please visit: