Name: SILVER PAWS RESCUE
Location: MACCLESFIELD / GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Mission: TO SAVE DOGS FROM ROMANIAN DEATH CAMPS AND SPANISH POUNDS AND FIND THEM GOOD FOREVER HOMES
When I was living in Sheffield I had a really good group of friends, most of whom I met in 2008. Natasha was one of the people I got to know well over my time up North. We drifted a little but have always remained friends and communicated online. Recently I got in touch with her as I’d seen her posting a lot on Facebook.
Most of her posts were dog related so I was curious to know what she had been up to since we’d last spoken. She told me that she had been working with local rescue dogs for the last few years. “I started visiting a local shelter and playing with the cats and dogs there to keep them happy. We adopted a dog a year and a half ago called Bloom and it all started from there. A few months after we adopted him I started volunteering for a Romanian shelter and I realised how many amazing dogs are out there and need homes.”
Natasha met Jo when they started working at their previous shelter together. Now they co-manage Silver Paws Rescue. “We set up the organisation to work with trusted foster homes and support both the people and the dogs who are most in need. We aim to choose the most adoptable dogs that will easily adapt to UK life. We bonded through trauma and we make a good team – Jo is very proactive and direct and I’m very cautious so between us we strike the right balance. Even if it’s been harrowing, Jo makes me giggle every day.” A lady called Lauren Michelle Hunt is now helping at Silver Paws Rescue and she works with a lady called Lela.
Silver Paws Rescue take on dogs that have never lived in homes before. “These are dogs that are about to die in the pounds, called death camps because they are so horrific you wouldn’t even believe it. They all have their own special stories to tell. Our own dog was starved and fed on dry bread before being discarded by hunters because they couldn’t afford to feed him proper food. Others have been dumped in a bin when they were a few days old, abandoned in forests, had their legs broken or been beaten.”
Natasha does this job because of the strong bonds she makes with the animals. “They are all broken and need fixing in different ways, and they have the most amazing souls. They give back in love ten times what you put in. The dogs we work with are extremely special and unique, the feeling you get when you have a break through and you manage to get a cuddle from a dog that’s been terrified of you for weeks, or you walk a dog and they see grass for the first time and don’t know how to react is amazing. Pulling dogs from the pounds is the most harrowing aspect of the job, it’s like playing God – you have to pick which live or die based on very little information. When they do get out of the pound it often transpires that they’re much sicker than described and they need all sorts of treatment which then has to be urgently fundraised.”
There was one dog who arrived at Silver Paws Rescue too terrified to be approached. A behaviourist had advised he should be put down because it would be impossible to help him. “We sat with him day in day out getting him to trust us, learn to take food from our hands. He once bit Kieran’s face and we had to go to hospital. Kieran caught him off guard and he panicked. After months of work he was better and started going for walks he loved them and his whole personality changed. It was like dragging a person out of a great bout of depression, everything lifted from him and he licked us and loved us. He was adopted by an amazing lady who has since done so much for our shelter, including a mad road trip to Romania to collect four foster dogs! I cried when I saw photos of him in the pub surrounded by people stealing burgers off her friend’s plate, I just couldn’t believe it.”
For the team at the shelter there is a proud moment and a profound sense of achievement with each dog that’s happily adopted, especially the ones that have been waiting years for a home. “The Romanian and Spanish people that we work with who fight against their culture and work flat out to pull these dogs from the pounds, treat them and care for them and face all the prejudice head on are so inspiring. Every time someone sends us photos of the dogs settled and happy in their forever homes, it’s the best feeling ever. The dogs themselves are an inspiration; to be fully rehabilitated after what they’ve gone through is a phenomenal achievement and it makes you feel like if they can get over that, then it’s possible for you to overcome anything.”
Silver Paws Rescue have a current donation appeal running for three surviving dogs from the Romanian pound – Lily, Auden and Banquo. “All sick when they were pulled out they had a day to live and we had to make a snap decision to take them, you can read their story on our website. We have an Auction coming up soon, within a week or so, to raise funds for them.” If anyone wants to help by volunteering in any way including organising events and more than please feel free to get in touch with the shelter using the links below. Also if you’re interested in adopting from the shelter