Bridgend Animal rescue centre BARC, who currently offer overnight foster for pets of the homeless, have launched plans to build a special homeless shelter in South Wales – where pets will be welcome. The move comes after a family pet died in sub-zero temperatures earlier this year when the cold forced a Mother and son to seek shelter after just three weeks of losing their home and trying to sleep on the streets. Their dog Cole was not permitted inside, so shelter staff staff tied him to an outdoor kennel, where he died trying to free himself from his restraint.
Local animal rescue BARC raised funds to support the family and paid for the dog to have a cremation and a peaceful, dignified goodbye, and Cole’s death helped to raised awareness of the overnight foster service so that other pets could be safe, however rescue Director Rebecca Christine-Lloyds says supporting the family was one of the hardest things she has ever done in her animal welfare career:
“The cremation service had placed Cole in a peaceful position, and their kindness was wonderful, but watching a Mum and her son say goodbye to the one thing they had left, just three weeks after losing everything was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever dealt with. Animal rescue is always hard, I’ve rescued animals from horrific abuse, and we’ve bottle-fed newborn abandoned kittens through the night and watched them die one by one, but seeing Cole lying there, supporting the family to say their goodbye, was a new level of devastation for me. I resolved there and then that Cole’s death would not be in vain and now we are just £10,000 away from building a shelter where pets can stay with their owners while we help them get back on their feet.”
The Centre also offers support for families on a low income via their pet food bank service. Rebecca explains:
“When people lose their income, they should not have to lose a pet that they love. Pets give people something to live for, and often low income and homeless people will feed their pet before themselves. BARC provides free pet food for homeless and low income human families, thanks to a generous food donation from West Wales pet nutrition experts Burns. Pet owners across South Wales are able to ask their local food bank to refer them to us, and we will provide them with free food for their pets.
Our shelter will be the only one of it’s kind in South Wales, but homeless shelters don’t need to wait for us to open – if they see a family with a pet in need of support, we are here to help and are only a telephone call away.”
To donate to the shelter project, please go to their appeal page: Cole’s Place