North Walsham woman launches caring crusade for county’s homeless hounds

An animal lover has launched a caring crusade to help Norfolk's stray dogs find new homes - and hopes her venture will put a stop to unwanted pets from across the country being put down.

Natasha Colman was spurred into action to help stray pooches when she discovered a huge number of them are destroyed by struggling councils throughout the UK, which cannot afford to keep them if they go unclaimed.

This practise is not used in Norfolk but the veterinary nurse from North Walsham was concerned with looming budget cuts some local authorities may have to resort to such drastic measures.

Horrified by the thought of healthy dogs being put down 'unnecessarily' she decided to do something to bring the numbers down and help take the burden off her local councils, and has now launched an online re-homing service; Norfolk Dog Rescue, which caters just for strays.

The website advertises dogs that have been picked up across the county but gone unclaimed, and already Mrs Colman and her band of volunteers, including husband Kevin, have found happy homes for 17 dogs.

But she has many more on her books and is urging prospective pet owners to consider her four-legged friends, especially as Christmas approaches.

Mrs Colman, 25, said: 'I can't bear the thought of animals being put to sleep feeling unloved and I think most people are horrified when they realise the figures. Last year in the UK 7,000 stray dogs were put to sleep because people don't claim them or they're not being re-homed.

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'I think the strays do tend to get a little bit forgotten, hopefully with a bit of awareness people will realise we're here and get a rescue dog.'

The Burton Avenue resident is now registering the website as a charity and has future plans to open a rescue centre to house strays from across Norfolk, with hopes it may go on to cater for dumped dogs from further afield.

Mrs Colman said: 'We're now starting to do fundraising events because all these dogs need medical treatment and the plan is to open a new rescue centre to accommodate just strays, and to help councils across the UK.'

She thought many hounds were becoming homeless as a result of their owners being unprepared for the commitment of looking after them or growing 'bored' of having them. And she said it was not uncommon to find unwanted young dogs as through her work at Companion Care Vets in Costessey she had treated several stray pups.

'We've found five to six-month-old puppies tied to lampposts and a dumped eight-week-old bull mastiff tied up in Norwich. He found a home at the end of the day but if you buy a puppy you're still going to end up with an adult dog,' she added.

? The group is looking for dog fosterers who can help socialise strays to prepare them for re-homing. Anyone who can volunteer, or is interested in taking on a rescue pet, should visit www.norfolkdogrescue.co.uk

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