OXFORDSHIRE Animal Sanctuary recently held a “Happy Staffy Month” in a bid to find homes for the 17 Staffordshire Bull Terriers in its care.

And staff said following their appeal families have shown an interest in taking on some of the dogs as pets but none so far have been allocated homes.

Now, following a single donation of about £10,000, trustees have gathered other donations to fund a £70,000 plan to build new kennels.

This will help to ensure that while dogs remain at the Stadhampton sanctuary, they have a comfortable existence.

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The funding will pay for the demolition of 10 existing kennels and 10 new ones will be built.

At the end of last year staff warned it faced closure because they were struggling to keep up with the £600,000-a-year running costs.

John Lord, who works as an accountant for the sanctuary, said: “About 18 months ago we were in severe financial trouble but since then about £300,000 has come in in legacies, so we can now see the way forward.”

Manager Iain Atkin added that the legacy donations meant the centre could stay open for 18 months and provide £70,000 to upgrade 10 kennels.

Mr Atkin added: “There were concerns about closure at one point, but the sanctuary is not facing closure at the moment, following a number of legacy donations.

“But we do need the continued support of the public and we are now seeking as much corporate support as possible.


  • Ten-year-old Mastiff Staffy cross Sammy pictured at the animal sanctuary

“We have space for 65 dogs and eventually we would like to be able to build new kennels for all of them but that could cost about £500,000.

“The old kennels are made of wood, were built very low to the ground, and have rotted in the wet weather over the years.

“Staff need to get on their knees to clean them out.

“The new kennels have an aluminium frame and are much easier to clean.”

It is now seeking South Oxfordshire District Council permission for the kennels.

He said: “It has taken us a long time to build up this money and we desperately need financial support, both from individuals and from corporate bodies, so we can plan for the future.

“If we get enough corporate support, then the legacies we get could be spent on buildings rather than running costs.”

Mr Atkin said the centre also accommodates about 90 cats and 20 rabbits.

“In the end we would like to replace the kennels and hutches for all the animals but it will be a long process.

“I would like to think that within five years everything will have been done.

“We will start knocking down the old dog kennels in January and go on from there.”


Funding facts and figures

  • MORE than 18,000 animals have been rehomed since the sanctuary, now a registered charity, opened in 1967.
  • In 2011, the total number of animals brought in was 148 dogs, 265 cats and 41 rabbits and staff rehomed 140 dogs, 154 cats, and 42 rabbits.
  • In 2012, 167 dogs, 209 cats and 28 rabbits came in and staff rehomed 157 dogs, 202 cats and 28 rabbits.
  • Last year, 186 dogs came in, with 243 cats and some 25 rabbits.
  • But staff managed to re-home 188 dogs, 245 cats and 27 rabbits.
  • Vets bills cost £126,300 and food and bedding £73,000 and it costs an average of £20 a week to care for each animal.
  • The charity fundraises through shops in Summertown, Didcot, Witney and Carterton, and from public donations.
  • Anyone able to help can also call the sanctuary on 01865 890239.
  • For more information visit oxfordshireanimalsanctuary.org.uk


  • Margaret Gray pictured in 1969 Founder member who helped set ball rolling

FOUNDING members rescued stray animals and housed them in boarding kennels and catteries in the 1960s before the sanctuary was founded.

During the cold Christmas of 1967, the Oxford Mail published a picture of founder member Margaret Gray feeding hay to ponies on Port Meadow.

The picture was seen by Sybil Morley, who gave the group £10,000 to help buy a sanctuary.

The South Oxfordshire Hunt also put its property on the market at Stadhampton and it became Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, with volunteers turning the stables and hounds’ quarters into kennels.

In 1970, 35 animals were moved from boarding homes in the county to the sanctuary.

In 2009 an appeal in the Oxford Mail saw an open day flooded with supporters offering cash and help.

About £80,000 was raised in gifts and the sanctuary was sustained for a year after supporter Vivian Kirk bequeathed his home.


  • The late Maggie Whalley

A true friend indeed

IN August 2012, staff paid tribute to one of the sanctuary’s greatest servants.

Maggie Whalley died, aged 57, at Sobell House Hospice in Headington after a battle with liver cancer.

Ms Whalley, from Littlemore, worked at the sanctuary for 20 years.

She was appointed warden in the 1990s by then-chairman Margaret Gray and was so dedicated she would sleep some nights at the sanctuary as she tried to stay on call 24 hours a day.

She never married and considered the animals and staff her family.

The dog lover adopted a Yorkshire Terrier she called Ragamuffin in 2001.

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