EVERYONE thought they were ‘barking mad’ but one year on and the staff and volunteers at Benvardin Animal Rescue Kennels have a lot to celebrate.
Not only have they survived their first year, but they have also managed to re-home a staggering 361 stray and unwanted dogs - and all without any funding apart from public donations.
Located on Benvardin Road, BARK is a non profit charitable animal welfare organisation and each month it costs in the region of £3,000 to simply stay open. However thanks to numerous donations from the local community, businesses and fundraising events, the centre is also looking to a bright future and is even expanding!
Speaking to the Times, Shaun McIntyre, BARK Charity Co-ordinator explained: “One year ago we got together and took over the kennels from the USPCA.
“Our mission was, and is, to save dogs from destruction and give them a chance for a new life. Over the past 12 months we have succeeded in re-homing a staggering 361 stray and unwanted dogs to date, which is fantastic.
“This has all been done without any funding as we rely purely on public donations and support and are continually trying to find new ways of raising the vital funds we need to stay open. It costs us £3,000 per month to function which is a lot of money.
“What’s more at the moment we are in the final stage of expanding and in the next two weeks we will be opening new kennels. This is thanks to an extremely generous donation of £6,500 from the Vij family in Portrush. The expansion includes eight completely covered and self contained runs which are vital to the successful and continued running of the centre.
“Amazingly we are also in the midst of the second stage of our development which include new office blocks, a rehabilitation unit and a food preparation area. This project has been funded by ourselves through events and other donations and will cost around £11,000. We have applied for a number of grants although have not received any notification of any successful applications.”
To help celebrate their first year milestone, BARK are holding A Dog’s Day Out day on Saturday, August 6th from 1pm to 4pm and is calling on everyone to come along and support them.
Shaun continued: “To celebrate our 1st birthday we have got together with Alpha 1 Dog Training and Causeway K9 Midnz & Mannerz to hold an action-packed dog’s fun day out.
“Everyone is invited to come along, especially all those who have re-homed, donated or helped in any way during our first year - and dogs will be made very welcome too.
“It’s going to be jam packed with dog oriented events including competitions for the best fancy dress, cutest pup, prettiest girl, most handsome male, best veteran, dog most like owner, waggiest tail, best young handler, cleverest trick & best rescued dog. All these categories come with top prizes
“There will also be representatives from the local vets who will be on hand to give free advice to dog owners plus dog training and behavioural experts, pet food manufacturers, dog display teams, face painting, bouncy castle and much more.
“The Guide Dogs for the Blind will be bringing their promotional bus over from England and the Adelphi Hotel in Portrush have kindly donated their two head chefs, plus food and equipment, to help feed the crowds with a delicious BBQ.
“A major television production company have also been in touch and hope to be there on the day filming as part of a new dog television show, although this is will be dependent on filming commitments the already have in England.”
The whole event is absolutely free however any donations would be gratefully received and go to a good home at the centre.
Concluding, Bark’s Shelter Manager and Chief Executive at Benvardin, Louise Neill added: “A year has gone so fast and we have done so much. However I couldn’t have done it without the help off all the staff, volunteers and friends of BARK. It is an amazing milestone and never in my wildest dreams did we expected it to go so well. And what’s more we have even more things to look forward to over the coming years.
“Once again thanks to everyone for their support, time, donations and hopefully we’ll see you on Saturday, August 6th when we can celebrate our success together.”
For more information or to re-home a dog call 07518 370 478 or go online at www.benvardenkennels.co.uk or visit their Facebook site for pictures and information of dogs which need a loving home.
Open for viewing to the public Tuesday to Sunday 2pm til 4pm. Sunday 8am til 3pm for the Car Boot Sale.