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Trying to Save a No Kill Animal Shelter from Closure

Updated on July 29, 2015
Mikey, one of Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary's canine residents.
Mikey, one of Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary's canine residents.

Shelter has Helped Animals for Many Years

I have followed and supported Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary's excellent work for more than 20 years.

My local no kill shelter, it is based on Queensway, in St Annes on Sea, Lancashire, UK.

I first became aware of the sanctuary in around 1990, when, in my first job as a junior reporter for a local newspaper, I was asked to write a feature for Easterleigh in an effort to find homes for some of its stray dogs and cats.

Armed with my trusty camera, I drove down to the shelter, on a site amidst fields off the main road running between St Annes on Sea and the neighbouring resort of Blackpool.

Immediately, I fell in love with the beautiful animals living there, who had become homeless and abandoned through no fault of their own.

Around 30 dogs were housed in spacious pens, with their beds, an enclosed area and a run, all of them eager to greet anyone who walked past and all craving to be loved.

Wildlife Hospital Too!

Many cats live on the premises, including strays, those who have been surrendered by their owner for various reasons and also some feral cats.

Those who can be re-homed are up for adoption, but a number have become permanent residents of the sanctuary.

Harper the cat, one of Easterleigh's current residents.
Harper the cat, one of Easterleigh's current residents.
The baby hedgehog that I took to Easterleigh so they could nurse him back to health.
The baby hedgehog that I took to Easterleigh so they could nurse him back to health.

Easterleigh also houses many wild creatures who have been injured - or orphaned - in its wildlife hospital wing.

The residents there include hedgehogs, gulls and other wild birds. They are released back to the wild when possible.

In particular, the hedgehog facility is very much needed, as I discovered when I found an injured hedgehog last year.

I contacted another local hedgehog rescue, to be told they were full to capacity and couldn't take any more in.

But thankfully, Easterleigh took the little guy off my hands, had him examined by their vet and nursed him back to health.

In addition to the dogs, cats and wild animals, there are also a number of horses, ponies, pigs and small animals, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, at Easterleigh.

They all have the best of care and for those who cannot be adopted to a new family, they have a home for life.

As an independent local charity, Easterleigh has survived for more than two decades on a shoestring budget and dependent entirely on public donations.

It has been a driving force in animal rescue in my home town and provides a vital lifeline for hundreds of animals.

Arson Attack Killed 26 Animals

Over the years, Easterleigh has survived tragedy when drunken arsonists set the premises alight, killing 26 animals in 2012 during what was described as a drunken rampage around the local area, randomly setting buildings ablaze.

Around £25,000 worth of damage was caused overnight, while the volunteers were traumatised at the tragic deaths of the animals.

At the time, local residents, outraged and devastated by the deaths, donated money to help rebuild the outhouses damaged in the blaze.

The culprits were later jailed for the arson attack after a judge described a “catalogue of devastation” caused by their mindless actions.

Sanctuary Soldiered On Against Adversity

Since the blaze in 2012, Easterleigh had managed to survive and was continuing its good work in helping animals of all species and sizes.

But I became aware that something was seriously wrong after reading an article in my local newspaper, The Blackpool Gazette.

Volunteers and animals at Easterleigh face having no premises due to the sanctuary's lease being terminated.
Volunteers and animals at Easterleigh face having no premises due to the sanctuary's lease being terminated. | Source

I felt devastated when I read how the lease on the sanctuary's current premises was up for renewal, but its very existence was under threat as a result.

The Gazette reported how the land where Easterleigh was based had been bought by a new landowner at around Christmas 2014.

And the sanctuary's founder, Mrs Leigh, said the new land owner was refusing to come to terms on a lease agreement and had issued the sanctuary with a notice to quit – effectively terminating its tenancy.

She has spent money she can ill afford on legal fees to fight the decision, but fears Easterleigh has reached the end of the road in its current location.

Now, there is a major fundraising campaign taking place to try and raise enough money for new premises. It is particularly urgent because no-one knows when the existing sanctuary might close down, as the case is still being heard through the courts.

Although it has been adjourned on the most recent occasion, there are other hearings pending and at any one of them, the sanctuary could be served with its eviction notice, making the animals in its care effectively homeless.

Various local people are organizing fundraising events, while people further afield have been donating via online crowdfunding pages, or by organizing their own events, such as sponsored walks. There have also been online auctions via Facebook to try and raise money.

It will be a tragedy if this wonderful facility - the only local no-kill shelter - closes down.

I have offered my services, as an ex-journalist, as volunteer press and public relations officer and also as a fundraiser.

Time is running out and Easterleigh's animals need all the help they can muster.

Lucy the three-legged Staffordshire terrier (pictured at Easterleigh fun day 2015) patiently awaits her new home.
Lucy the three-legged Staffordshire terrier (pictured at Easterleigh fun day 2015) patiently awaits her new home.

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      They have such good hearts that I truly hope people pull together and help. I am sharing on G+

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 22 months ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you, that is very much appreciated. To make it even more difficult, their own website has had technical problems for three days and the server has gone down, so I've been trying to share the information on Facebook as much as possible.

      It really will be a disaster for my local area if this shelter shuts down. The only other one is the RSPCA and they do kill dogs if they have not been rehomed after a period of time, which is all wrong.

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