Borders Pet Rescue aims to raise £30,000 in its 30th year

Hard-working team...centre manager Lee-Ann Lackie (centre) with (l-r) animal care assistants Jo Hawke, Bruce Murray, Kevin Motion and Evie Logan.
Hard-working team...centre manager Lee-Ann Lackie (centre) with (l-r) animal care assistants Jo Hawke, Bruce Murray, Kevin Motion and Evie Logan.

It is 30 years now since Borders Pet Rescue was first established to safegaurd unwanted animals in the area.

Founded by Jill Solway, who ran a cattery at Tweedbank, she was soon taking in other small pets too, such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

Shadow...friendly five-year-old German Shepherd cross needs a new home.

Shadow...friendly five-year-old German Shepherd cross needs a new home.

And some 12 years ago, the charity was kindly donated land in Earlston to create a purpose-built facility.

The staff and volunteers fundraised to amass enough money to build their new premises and kennels.

And now, as the charity celebrates its 30th year, it is hoping that locals will be generous once again.

To celebrate the special anniversary, Borders Pet Rescue launched a £30,000 fundraising campaign earlier this year to transform an old stable block into additional dog kennels.

Willow and Mittens...shy pair need a new home together, without any dogs.

Willow and Mittens...shy pair need a new home together, without any dogs.

It had hoped to amass the money before the end of the year but has raised just over £6000 so far.

However, the dedicated team are not giving up on the dream.

Lee-Ann Lackie, the centre’s manager, said: “We can currently house six dogs but are raising the money to build another ten kennels.

“We sometimes take in dogs from as far afield as Edinburgh but, with limited capacity, we always have a waiting list.

“So the £30,000 will be used to build the new kennels to help as many animals as we can.

“We’re a small, local charity so to raise more than £6000 is fantastic and we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received.

“We had hoped we’d be able to raise all the funds this year but we’re not giving up – we’ll just keep on fundraising until we meet our target.”

There are five members of staff at the centre, who are ably backed up by 50 dedicated volunteers who help walk and look after the animals in its care.

The team help to rehome dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and exotics, such as snakes, as well as taking in wild hedgehogs for rehabilitation over the winter and release in spring.

At any one time, it can home up to six dogs, 30 cats, eight rabbits and a large variety of exotics.

The centre is also now a permanent home to several yellow-bellied sliders; due to new legislation, the turtles cannot be rehomed but they’ll be looked after by the team for the rest of their lives – up to 40 years!

Animals are given to the centre for a wide variety of reasons, most often because the former owners can no longer look after them due to a house move or illness.

Anyone who wants to adopt a pet has to fill out a rehoming form and is then matched with the most suitable pet.

For those who want to adopt a dog, several visits are required and a home check is also carried out to ensure the house is suitable.

The centre’s website and Facebook page are valuable tools in helping find suitable new homes for animals.

Lee-Ann explained: “We rehome pets all over the country. The furthest we’ve gone is Shetland.

“The couple really wanted the cat and came all the way down here to get it. They even organised a flight to get the cat home!

“And we had an enquiry from someone in America who wanted to adopt a bearded collie ... but we had to draw the line at that one!

“That’s the real beauty of the internet and social media – it really helps us get the word out about all of the animals in our care.

“We rehome between 250 to 300 animals every year.

“It would be a tougher job without the internet.”

It costs £120,000 a year to run the centre, around £15,000 of which are vet fees.

So every penny raised in the Borders Pet Rescue charity shops in Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso and Duns is put to good use.

Lee-Ann (38), who is from Melrose and has worked at the centre for 22 years, said: “We get no money from the government or the likes of the National Lottery.

“It’s difficult for small charities to compete for funding so even if people buy something for ten pence, it’s a big help to us.

“We survive on generous public donations and our shops play a big role too.

“Thankfully, people are very generous, both in terms of donating items and in their purchases, for which we are very grateful.”

While the centre now has a waiting list for volunteers, the shops need recruits.

Lee-Ann said: “We are always looking for shop volunteers and would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested.”

The centre is closed for two weeks at Christmas, when no pets are rehomed.

But locals often donate presents for the animals.

Lee-Ann added: “Pets At Home in Galashiels also asks customers to buy a meal for the centre which is lovely.”

To donate to the charity or find out more, visit www.borderspetrescue.org.