By Dan Santy 15/02 Updated: 21/02 13:00
MORE dogs are being abandoned and rehoming them is harder than ever according to one tireless campaigner.
Anita Twigger, founder of Rugby Pawprints, says saving abandoned and stray dogs from being put down and finding them a new home is becoming difficult due to a severe shortage of spaces in rescue homes nationwide.
Since last year Anita, who lives on The Kent in Hillmorton, has dedicated herself to finding pounded dogs in Rugby and neighbouring areas new homes purely out of the goodness of her heart.
Dog lover Anita, 44, set up Rugby Pawprints in August last year after her German Shepherd was put down and she decided to get a rescue dog.
After visiting pounds and seeing how hard it was to rehome dogs - and how many healthy animals were put down - Anita decided she needed to do whatever she could to help.
Her first rescue was an English bull terrier who was just hours away from being put to sleep. She took the dog, Annabelle, and drove her to a centre 130 miles away in Liverpool who then found a loving home for her.
From there it did not take Anita long to gather support for her cause, with hundreds of people joining her Facebook group to create a thriving network of people in Rugby all working to rehome dogs on 'death row'.
Since then she and her colleagues - in particular Joanne Lawrence and Sharon Wormald - have found new homes for 36 dogs.
"It gives us so much joy. We get nothing out of it other than knowing we've helped find a new home for an abandoned dog," Anita said.
"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the help of people who've joined in with the cause. These are people I never even knew before and have now made good friends with."
Anita puts the surge in abandoned dogs down to the current economic slump and overbreeding, with some owners finding themselves with too many animals to sell and dumping them as a result.
And she says the increasing difficulty in finding space for them is down to big guns like the RSPCA struggling with their own rehoming programmes - piling the pressure on smaller rescue centres and campaigners like herself.
Pounded dogs are usually only given seven days before they are either rehomed or put down and the process can be long and hard since the animals need to be fully vaccinated before they can leave.
"It was dire over Christmas. It's hard to take at times and you have to be quite tough. Sometimes I don't think I'm tough enough," Anita said.
"But at the same time you need to be compassionate or else you wouldn't be doing it in the first place."
"All of the rescues in the country are struggling for space, and all agree there is an unprecedented rise in abandoned dogs compared with last year.
"We've got so many back yard breeders now. It's out of control and I would urge people to get a rescue dog instead."
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