BLEAKHOLT Animal Sanctuary rehomed a record number of animals last year ­— but bosses say the demand to take them in continues.

The sanctuary, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, rehomes dogs, cats and small animals while goats, pigs, horses, sheep and others live out their lives there.

Last year they rehomed more than 1,300 animals – 542 dogs, an increase of 100 on the previous year; while 714 cats and 115 small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, found their forever homes.

Sanctuary manager Karen Weed said: “It’s good news that we are re-homing so many but their places are soon taken by new animals which are coming in.

“Since the start of this year we have had 70 rabbits we have been asked to take in. We only have room for around 20 and we have only re-homed four in 2019 so we haven’t got the space available.

“One afternoon on reception in the summer, we had phone calls to take in 40 cats in a couple of hours ­— we can house 100 cats but we were already full to capacity.

“It means we have to prioritise which ones we take in, with the ones most at risk or vulnerable coming in first, although we do try to help them all.”

It costs more than £1 million a year to run the Edenfield-based sanctuary, all of which comes from donations.

Animals arriving at Bleakholt include strays, ones whose owners have died, as well as others who have been abandoned.

Among the most stunning reasons given for admissions have been people wanting to swap animals, complaints over dogs not barking, while one person simply stated that they did not want to buy a litter tray.

Two kittens who have found new homes are Kitchie and Takoda. Both have hydrocephalus – fluid on the brain – which can be fatal, but the pair have successfully undergone treatment.

New owners Joel and Helen Gibson said: “We have been looking for a kitten for a while and we came up and saw these and they were inseparable.

“Their condition certainly didn’t put us off, they are just so lovely.”

Last year, the sanctuary opened a new kennel block and a new enrichment and sensory area is expected to be completed in April.

The scheme will include a large dog exercise area, and enrichment area with tunnels, tyres, logs and other obstacles, and four dog runs.

In the sensory area, there will be a selection of naturally calming trees and shrubs. The planting areas will be mulched with a fine grade woodchip so that dogs can wander easily and lie down comfortably.

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