Everyday tasks at the Woodside Animal Welfare Trust can range from handling a tiny mouse to getting a head collar on a reluctant Dartmoor pony. Somewhere in between we care for the normal cats and dogs, alongside most varieties of little pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs plus a small selection of hand reared livestock. Totals regularly exceed 200 and experienced staff are on hand to feed, clean, medicate and interact with up to 17 different species.
Woodside’s countryside sanctuary, on the outskirts of Plymouth in Devon, is ideally situated adjacent to forestry commission land where dogs get their daily walks with committed volunteers. This doesn’t just ensure regular exercise, as all manner of behaviour traits and health problems can be flagged up for staff to act on or pass on to potential adopters.
Once an animal arrives at Woodside, care is guaranteed for as long as necessary. Elderly pets have their own residential special care units and adopted ones must return if their owners can no longer keep them – even years later. None are euthanized unless they are beyond veterinary care or dangerous.
In Woodside’s early days its founder Carole Bowles MBE travelled around the city collecting weekly payments from owners unable to pay outright for neutering. Over forty years on the registered charity’s focus continues to be firmly set on reducing the frightening numbers of surplus pets in its area. Offering both low-cost neutering to owners on a benefit or state pension, and a savings stamps scheme which can help everyone budget for the operations.
Getting out into the community is part of Woodside’s history too, and many sad pets have been brought back from the welfare round. In deprived areas it’s not unusual for animals to be passed around, left to fend for themselves, dumped and even locked away in sheds. Thanks to local respect for the charity and some really caring residents, there are many such animals in loving homes today.