For 130 years, Birmingham Dogs Home has taken in and cared for thousands of unwanted and neglected pets. We look at this amazing charity, which costs £2.5million-a-year to run and is completely funded by voluntary donations
They say we’re a nation of dog-lovers, and in many ways that’s true. Figures show that a third of UK households own at least one of man’s best friend – that’s around 10 million homes in total. And as most doting dog owners will tell you, when we love our dogs… we really love our dogs!
Sadly, the reverse is also true, with growing numbers of pets being abandoned and neglected post-pandemic and in the face of the cost of living crisis. “The numbers of unwanted dogs coming to us is rising and we expect the trend to continue to increase as people decide they can’t afford to feed their dogs and look after them anymore,” said Fi Harrison head of fund-raising and communication at Birmingham Dogs Home.
TO THE RESCUE
The charity, which has kennels on 12 acres just outside Solihull as well as in Wolverhampton, accepts all dogs and works with nine local authorities taking in lost, unwanted and abused animals. Fi said: “In October, which was a typical month, we rescued 121 dogs, reunited 32 with their worried owners, rehomed 97 and have a further 73 who have been reserved by potential adopters.”
Quick maths makes that around 1,500 pets rescued each year, with half in need of medical care as a result of neglect or abuse. Working that figure up even further, the numbers become simply mind-blowing when you consider that Birmingham Dogs Home has been celebrating its 130th anniversary!
It all sounds like a military-scale operation – with 120 heated kennels, an on-site veterinary surgery and an army of volunteers and staff on the Solihull site, plus the Wolverhampton base which houses a further 90 dogs.
What’s even more amazing is that the charity is totally self-funding, with no government backing to help towards the £2.5million-a-year it costs to run the home. Instead, the money comes from a mix of donations from individuals and businesses and grants from trusts. “Also hugely important are people who leave us gifts in their wills,” said Fi. “There is constant pressure to raise this money and it can be a worry, especially at times like this when the economic situation isn’t the best.”
One of the region’s oldest and best-loved animal welfare charities, Birmingham Dogs Home was founded in 1892 on land in New Canal Street, where it remained until moving to its current, bigger location. In 2021, the charity launched a fund-raising appeal to provide an on-site veterinary clinic. “We were spending £250,000-a-year on outside vet fees which was just not sustainable,” explained Fi. “So, we needed to fund-raise to repurpose an existing space into the inhouse clinic which we successfully opened in 2022.”
The clinic was particularly busy after the Covid lockdown. “Initially when lockdown happened and people were at home, everyone wanted a dog,” said Fi. “Once the lockdowns were over, we had a real influx of dogs and many were very poorly due to being badly bred by unscrupulous breeders who had seen an opportunity to cash in. Now, with the economic worries we are experiencing there’s a real spike again in abandoned dogs coming to us via local authorities.”
Unsurprisingly, working at the home can often be an emotional job as dogs who have been discarded and neglected are looked after, brought back to health and taught to trust humans again. Fi describes the staff as ‘canine carers at the coalface’. We couldn’t agree more!