“More often than not, animals are given up due to human hardship rather than reasons of neglect.”

NAWT logoSo says Alexandra Spurgeon, Fundraising and Marketing Manager at the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT). To help keep pets with their owners where possible, the charity took the decision to fundraise for a new project: Pet Care in the Community.

“Our project works to flip those scales, so that animals who already have a dedicated and loving owner won’t end up in rescue,” explains Spurgeon.

Petplan Charitable Trust agreed to be the charity’s Champion Funder. We donated £12,000 which NAWT used to match pledges of at least £100 from some of its most dedicated supporters.

“We successfully raised another £12,500 in pledges to create a pot of £25,000. Payment of those pledges was dependant on us being able to match this pot in a ‘Double Donations Week’ whereby every donation the charity received was matched by the pledge pot.”

elderly lady with jack russell holding lead in its mouthNAWT exceeded its target, raising £58,000

“I’m thrilled to say that we exceeded our target, and by the end of our ‘Double Donations Week’ we had raised an enormous £58,000 towards our Pet Care in the Community project,” says Spurgeon.

“None of this would have been possible without Petplan Charitable Trust kindly agreeing to be our Champion Funder within this matched funding campaign.”

There can be complex reasons why an owner finds themselves struggling to care for a pet they are devoted to. This can bring significant challenges. Spurgeon cites a recent case where an elderly lady asked for help to care for her dog. It soon became clear that she was suffering from some quite serious mental health problems. The volunteer assigned to her simply didn’t have the appropriate training to help her manage this situation.

“This has highlighted a need to assess both the beneficiary and their animal before agreeing to support them, as well as a need to offer relevant training to volunteers (not just animal care training).”

‘She said the dog was her only friend’

There were also some real successes that made all the charity’s efforts worthwhile.

old lady with tabby cat“One lady called for our help to care for her dog whilst she and her children fled a domestically violent home to a secure unit. She was unable to take the dog with her initially and feared what would happen to the dog if she left him behind. She told us that the dog was her only friend and he had pulled her through her darkest times.

“She felt she couldn’t live without him, but she also couldn’t stay in a home where her and her children weren’t safe. Financially, she wasn’t in a position to arrange alternative care for the dog, until she could get the help she needed to separate from her violent partner.

“We agreed to help her by offering her dog a safe haven whilst he needed it. Two months later, the lady and her children were relocated to a home of their own and were able to take back their beloved family dog, so that they could all enjoy a home free from violence.”

NAWT plans to be less reactive, more pro-active

chestnut dog gazes at elderly masterThe next steps will be to use the lessons from the pilot to inform the final plan for the project and develop the framework around that. NAWT hopes to launch to the public by the end of May.

“We are incredibly excited to get this project underway so that, as a charity, NAWT can be less reactive in helping pets and more pro-active by addressing the root causes of why some people relinquish their beloved companions,” adds Spurgeon.

“We couldn’t have got this far without the support of Petplan Charitable Trust, and we are so grateful for your support.”

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