Janet talks about her business of saving dogs from Romania and giving them new homes.
16s: Janet McDougal of Woodfield Dog Rescue which isn’t in the Woodfield area of Harrogate. We also have Albert, the rescue dog, here.
50s: I have been moved to tears in the pre-chat of this podcast – no more puppies should freeze to death. Albert is a cross of a Border Collie/German Shepherd who is about 2 and a half years old and he was in a litter of 8 and only he survived, the other 7 froze to death.
1mins 52s: How did you set up this charity? I fell into it. We were in holiday in Thailand and I came across this amazing charity called Soy Dog Foundation and me and my husband sponsored some dogs there. We wanted to get a second dog and we wanted it to be a rescue dog. After seeing Choi Choi on Facebook, we got him on October 31st 2016.
4mins 8s: Do you still have Choi Choi? Yes he was very scared with fear aggression issues to being a real party animal. After we got him, one thing lead to another and I started to support dogs in Romania via Facebook.
6mins 29s: What did you do in Romania? I went out there September 2017 to see the kennels we built. The year before that, Madalena had been messaging me about the terrible weather conditions. She was in a public shelter with around 500 dogs and she went in one day and all of Albert’s litter was dead except Albert. We had him taken to a private clinic and he had pneumonia, but he survived. We kept doing our work and I had to see where Albert had come from and I wanted there to be a purpose to my first visit. I put my Spaniel, Bella, on a sponsored slim and we raised enough money to do a 4 day spay clinic to get dogs off the street. We spayed about 100 dogs meaning fewer puppies on the street in the future.
9mins 46s: You helped to build a clinic within the kill shelter? They have a licence for up to 500 dogs and over that, dogs will start to be killed. When a dog enters the clinic, they have about 14 days before they are euthanised though this can be longer if the numbers are under 500.
10mins 28s: How many dogs are euthanised in a year at this shelter before you showed up? All of them would’ve been killed but now they are re-homed. They have to have a suitable temperament for going overseas.
11mins 11s: Where is your charity? We are based outside of Bishop Thornton, we have a small shelter at home with a maximum of 7 dogs to re-home them. We work with a behaviouralist in Harrogate and we get the dogs professionally assessed. We work to match the dog to the home. Adopters need to be fully informed about the commitment of adopting a dog. We’ve homed 46 dogs in one year.
13mins 18s: How are the dogs moved from Romania? They are moved in specially adapted vans with air conditioning. Undoubtedly, it creates some stress for the dogs but when they arrive, they are in good shape. It takes about 2-3 days to arrive.
14mins 23s: Have you ever had a problem with rabies? No, the dogs are all rabies vaccinated. Everything is done exactly as it should be. We get spot-checked by DEFRA.
14mins 56s: If I wanted a dog, I have 2 kids, should we come to you to look for a dog? Not all dogs are suitable for families, but each dog is individual as is each family. The minimum age a dog can travel is 4 months so you can see its personality a bit, but you don’t always know its background.
16mins 56s: How does it feel for you to save these dogs and then give the dogs up again? Homing dogs has to be taken really seriously and I try to do little trials in the homes. If it’s all as it should be, I feel good because I’ve been careful. I don’t want the dog to come back to me and have to go through that.
18mins 59s: Can you get insurance for these dogs? If the dog is in good health, it’s fine, the same as any other dog.
20mins 22s: How can people help the Romanian dogs? We have a group on Facebook who is very driven. Fundraising is a big part of what we do, we have fun events and we ask for donations. We send 1000kg of food per month. We raise funds for medical supplies so they can be treated out there. The progress we’ve made is phenomenal. We’re trying to raise awareness as well.
25mins 0s: Are you looking for volunteers? We’ve got plenty but people can always come and see what we do and walk dogs etc. It depends how many dogs we’ve got in.
26mins 0s: What skills did you learn in business that you use in your charity? I think they’re similar. Being understanding, looking beyond what’s right in front of you, problem solving, not being afraid to go for it. Most successful people dive in and sort it out, they work out the detail later. We built the shelter and we made a mistake with the floor, but we sorted it.
28mins 18s: Give us a typical day. We’re up before 6am, we fit in running the house and other business interests, keeping the group active, home dogs, home-checking, buying food etc. We go up to Scotland to try to switch off. It’s important to take regular breaks.
29mins 33s: What’s the next stage for you? We try to do everything to the best way we can do it. You never stop learning. I don’t think I will grow the charity too much – I’m 57 but I can keep bringing dogs over, it’s about quality not quantity.
31mins 51s: What’s next? We’re going back out to Romania to look at our next build. We are going to have a mother and pup unit. The puppies will have a higher level of welfare and spread of disease minimalised. There will be more space in the shelter as well from where they have mothers raising the puppies in there for a while. We’re hoping to build it this year. It’s important to have this unit because mixing the mothers and puppies and adult dogs is a disaster. It will make a huge amount of difference.
34mins 41s: How can people contact you? Woodfield Dog Rescue on Facebook, PayPal [email protected] we have a website, send me a private message, we’re on Twitter and Instagram.