Who are Cardiff Dogs Home?
Nestled on the Westpoint Industrial estate in Penarth Road, the Cardiff Dogs Home is a an organisation which exists largely to take in the canine waifs and strays in and around the Cardiff area and help dogs find their forever home.
The charity, run by the Friends of Dogs Wales, is expertly staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers, each committed to finding the perfect match between pet and prospective owner. The Friends group, set up in 2011, works hard to make the rehoming process as smooth as possible while drawing attention to the plight of homeless dogs in the Cardiff and Newport areas.
But taking care of basic needs is just half the story, with staff dedicated to modernising and enhancing their furry residents’ environment and creating first-class facilities. In the last few years volunteers have embarked on a major kennel enhancement scheme with each space equipped with chew toys and play equipment as well as a sensory garden for exercise and encouraging natural behaviours such as running, hiding and splashing!
Educating and helping owners is also high on the list of priorities, with advice freely available on neutering, microchipping and even reporting dangerous dogs.
A history of hope
Since its inception, the Friends group has steadily found a growing need to take care of Wales’ lost, abandoned and unwanted dogs. Such was the success of the Cardiff home, in 2016 the group was asked by Newport City Council to open up a new facility in the neighbouring area. Now hundreds more dogs across the region have access to a happy home, thanks to the expansion of the organisation and dedication of its volunteers.
Plight of homeless dogs
While the local authority has a legal obligation to look after stray or abandoned dogs for a week, dogs face the prospect of being destroyed if a suitable home can’t be found within this narrow time frame. The Friends remain committed to making sure that no healthy dog is put down. Instead, dogs are kept safe, given access to medical treatment, exercised regulary and have help to solve any behavioural issues that may come up.
Volunteers receive no money or expenses for their dedicated care of the dogs and many give their hours around full time jobs, family and their own pets.
Hundreds of dogs pass through the Home’s gates every year, with summer often the busiest time and despite the scores of visitors popping in every week there is always high demand for safe, caring homes.
Potential pets come in all shapes and sizes, many from less than perfect homes and circumstances and many are brought to the centre after being found abandoned. For some of the canine residents nothing less than being housed with their best friend will do and the Home is always looking for owners willing to take two dogs together.
Finding a forever home
Profiles for each pet are shared over social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter as well as on the Home’s own website.
Volunteers will consider up to three applications for each dog before carefully reviewing each one and arriving at a decision. Introductory meetings and home visits can then take place, giving future owners the chance to get to know their dog outside the kennels.
Rehoming is a delicate process with canine temperament matched closely to the needs and individual circumstances of potential owners. Staff make a thorough check to see if future homes have children, other pets or access to outside spaces. Similarly, owners are give the full history and health status of their dog where possible, though animals brought in as strays can remain something of a mystery.
Staff urge possible owners to carry out their own research on the individual dogs at the centre before making an application. Spending some time figuring out which breed might suit your own lifestyle saves the potential for a mismatch and the heartache of having to return a pet that doesn’t quite fit your individual circumstances.
Currently, the cost of rehoming a dog is between £130 and £300, depending on the age and breed of the animal. This fee includes vaccinations, microchipping, flea treatment and neutering. But these charges only go a small way in covering the cost of running the Home and fundraising remains of major importance to the army of volunteers who oversee day to day care of the dogs.
Dog walkers, known as the Purple Pilgrim Walkers, make sure each animal gets a good daily walk. They can’t be missed in their purple t-shirts and wellies, running around the parks of Cardiff and Newport.
Regular fundraising events are also held throughout the year with the popular Meets and Greets of current canine residents, street collections and the ever-popular summer dog shows.
Their paws in our hands
Like animal shelters and homes across the country, Cardiff Dogs Home relies almost exclusively on the love, loyalty and dedication of its enthusiastic volunteers. Day in, day out this committed bunch of dog devotees works hard to provide a better life for animals who have known the fear of abandonment and loss. The Home’s motto of “their paws in our hands” very neatly sums up the sense of responsibility felt by everyone at the Home, who certainly are a safe pair of hands for the homeless dogs of Cardiff and Newport.