JERRY GREEN DOG RESCUE
By Ann Evans
This year marks the 54th anniversary of Jerry Green Dog Rescue, a charity which has rehomed thousands of dogs over the years, and continues to do so today.
It was founded by successful property developer, Jerry Green. The idea came to him after his faithful pet spaniel, Rusty died. Rusty is in fact the logo for the charity.
The first Jerry Green dog rescue centre was established in Broughton, North Lincolnshire, which today is their largest centre. Over the years they opened six more sanctuaries, more recently honed down to five: Gilberdyke, East Yorkshire; Thirsk North Yorkshire; Blidworth, Nottinghamshire and Algarkirk, South Lincolnshire.
Sadly, Jerry Green only lived to see his first centre thriving as he passed away in 1968 when he was in his 80s. The person who took over the helm was the woman who had been at his side right from the beginning – Miss Peggy Dormon. She and Jerry created their state of the art sanctuary and welcomed the first dog through the gates in 1961. This was a stray called Lucky.
Peggy Dormon, known affectionately as Miss D to those who knew her, continued to work tirelessly for the next five decades and for much of that time she was Honorary Chairman and Treasurer.
Earlier this year, on January 8th 2015 Miss Dormon passed peacefully away. I count myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk to her some nine years earlier when photographer, Rob Tysall and I visited the original Jerry Green rescue centre in North Lincolnshire.
There we found a lovely spacious 12 acre sanctuary surrounded by greenery and open countryside. Heated kennels with long outdoor runs, their latest kennel block having only recently been opened; an isolation unit, and separate food preparation and grooming rooms. As currently the largest of the Jerry Green Centres, it can cope with around 60 dogs in need of new loving homes.
At the time, the sanctuary was running with quite a modest number of staff – just six full time animal care assistants and two part timers. It was described to me as a close run shop, which was precisely how Miss Dormon liked it.
“I watch over every penny and every penny is used for the dogs,” she said as we sat in her office with a framed portrait of founder Jerry Green on the wall behind her. “We’re not a profit making organisations and I don’t believe in squandering money.”
True to her word, she delightfully pointed out that the carpet in her office was the original carpet from when the sanctuary first opened in 1961 – and it still looked good!
Miss Dormon talked to us about how the first Jerry Green sanctuary came about and why their logo is of a golden cocker spaniel. “That was Rusty,” Miss Dormon explained. “Rusty was Jerry Green’s dog for 15 years. He came from a family who were giving him up because the mother was at her wits end, since her two boys had taught the dogs to rip washing from the line and other naughty pranks. Jerry took him in, and lavished him with love and affection. The pair were inseparable. Rusty became the inspiration for the sanctuaries.
“When Jerry was in his eighties, he would say to Rusty, ‘I don’t know which of us will go first boy. It proved to be Rusty, and when he died aged 15, Jerry was heartbroken.
“However, he was also aware that while Rusty had enjoyed a wonderful life, many other dogs didn’t get the same chances, and he wanted to do something about it. So he decided to build a sanctuary for stray and unwanted dogs as somewhere they could go to find kindness, love and new homes. He always said: no needy dog would ever be turned away.
“He already owned the plot of land where the sanctuary was subsequently built, so he set about building his kennels – much to the amusement of local people. In those days, there weren’t any rehoming centres like there are now. I think people thought he was a bit eccentric, building all these kennels and not having any dogs to put in them.
“However, as the kennels were nearing completion, Jerry received a telephone call from Scunthorpe police station. They had picked up a black Labrador, and having held him for almost seven days, without anyone claiming him, were on the verge of putting him to sleep. Jerry took the dog in.
“He was called Lucky – and he certainly was,” said Miss Dormon who showed us Lucky’s arrival as dog number one in the register in August 1961. The sanctuary at the time of our visit nine years ago was on dog number 16,670.
She went to explain that at the time Jerry Green was also revolutionary in being the first dog sanctuary to spay every bitch. “Other organisations followed suit,” Miss Dormon said. “We had our own operating theatre and X-ray machine. The vet would come along with an anaesthetist and an assistant and treat the dogs. These days we go to the vets but all our dogs are vaccinated, spayed and microchipped before going to a new home.”
Before we left on that occasion Miss Dormon added, “I don’t suppose I’d planned on this becoming my life, but it just grows and grows on you and I admit I’m a little bit possessive about it all.”
At the time of her death this year, chairman Ian Cawsey is quoted as saying: “As well as being an astute businesswoman with a firm but fair-minded approach, she was also an extremely kind person, who will be loved, remembered and missed by many. Her amazing contribution to animal welfare will live on in the work of Jerry Green Dog Rescue and we will continue to strive to live up to her ideals.”
Earlier this year, photographer Rob Tysall and I decided to pop along to the Nottinghamshire centre which had just had a major rebuild, with the original 1988 buildings being demolished and a wonderful bright, airy set of buildings and state of the art kennels built in its place, along with a training barn, indoor agility equipment. Surrounded by greenery, it’s a lovely rehoming centre where the dogs are made comfortable, have health checks and any behavioural issues ironed out and so on, before they are matched with a new owner.
We met up with Deputy Manager, Sapphire Mcinnes, who was delighted with the new building and its facilities. “We’ve had a massive transformation,” said Sapphire. “We’re on a green belt here, so we wanted the buildings to have a ‘county’ look to them. We’ve also got Tipping Wood right next door, which is perfect for walking the dogs.”
As with the other Jerry Green Centres they favour a ‘meet and match’ approach to people taking on a new dog. Sapphire explained: “Prospective new families come in and we have a chat, talk about their circumstances and lifestyle, talk about the sort of dog they would like. We see if we have a dog that might be suitable, and we then bring the dog out of the kennel to meet the family in a relaxed environment.
“The family can then meet the dog on a one-to-one basis, and see the dog to its full potential, and not barking or stressed as it might be if someone they don’t know is peering through kennel bars at them. The dog is much more relaxed and happy to be brought into a room. So it’s better for the family and for the dog – and the staff.”
The delightful new look to the rescue centre has been welcomed by everyone, those involved in its work and the local community. Sapphire, who’s first job was a volunteer at the rescue centre when she was just 14 and has since worked her way up the ladder added, “ This is such an inviting place, with the plants and the greenery; the kennels are bright and airy with under floor heating, and we have this welcoming reception area. When someone has to give up their dog for some reason, coming to a place like this softens the blow.”
Jerry Green Dog Rescue continues its great work entirely through the generosity of the public. They rely on volunteers, fundraising, donations, legacies and sponsorship. Please visit their website to find out how you can support them, and to see the many lovely dogs looking for new homes.