Photo gallery: Couple need help to care for rescued German Shepherds in Swanton Morley
10:45 26 April 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
A husband and wife whose passion for German shepherds inspired them to set up their own rescue centre are calling out for more volunteers and foster carers.
The plea comes from Damon and Mel Harris in the run-up to the first anniversary of the Eastern German Shepherd Rescue Centre which they opened in Swanton Morley last June.
Having worked at other rescue centres, the couple decided they wanted to set up their organisation to get away from what they describe as the “bureaucracy”, and put the dogs at the heart of what they do.
They have both owned German shepherds for more than 20 years and decided to specialise in the breed from their own personal interest.
In their first year of operating, they have re-homed 12 dogs and have helped more than 30.
They have also helped some dogs stay with their owner thanks to advice and tools given.
To mark their first anniversary, they will hold a family fun day and dog show on May 25.
Mrs Harris, 41, who used to work at a veterinary practice in Wymondham, said: “Our first year has gone amazingly well. We have had so much good luck and so many people have come forward to help us.
“We set our immediate targets low as we didn’t know what to expect and it was quite daunting.
“We wanted to stop one dog from being put down, put one into temporary foster care and re-home another – we achieved all that within six weeks which is when we thought this is really going to go somewhere.
“We take things as they come and you never know what the next phone call is going to be.
“We are really lucky to have fantastic volunteers and fosterers but do need more – the more we have, the more dogs we can help.”
The couple, who run the rescue centre from their home, have about 60 to 70 volunteers who help with picking up dogs, assessing them, fostering and walking dogs for older people.
Mr and Mrs Harris, who have seven dogs of their own and seven children between them, aged between seven and 21, try to help families keep their dogs where they can.
“We had one case where a couple came in to re-home their dog. They hadn’t walked her for three years. When we went round to do the assessment and it came to signing the paperwork, the woman just burst into tears.
“I said ‘you don’t want to do this, do you?’. It emerged that the dog was too strong for the lady to walk. With some advice and tools, we managed to keep the dog with the couple – one of our volunteers went out walking with the dog and the lady to build her confidence up and now they are fine and they are going to keep her,” said Mrs Harris.
The couple’s family fun day and dog show will include children’s rides and entertainment, craft stalls, food stands, a barbecue and information stands.
There will be a ring for the dog show with fun classes and a second ring for demonstrations and displays.
For more information about the rescue centre or to volunteer, go to www.easterngermanshepherdrescue.co.uk or call the centre on 01362 637799.
Have you got an animal story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org