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Life is anything but bleak for animals at this Lancashire sanctuary

Sanctuary resident Bear the German Shepherd dog wears his hard hat while the renovation work goes on.
Sanctuary resident Bear the German Shepherd dog wears his hard hat while the renovation work goes on.
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From newly-born to oldies, from the unusual to the usual, Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary caters for all – and is building for the future.

The Edenfield sanctuary has been inundated over the last few months, especially with older staffie dogs.

Pan and Freya, the two Soay lambs who were rescued will live out their days at the Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.

Pan and Freya, the two Soay lambs who were rescued will live out their days at the Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.

There is also a big influx of kittens needing homes and they have even hand-reared two Soay lambs from two days old.

This is all while the sanctuary undergoes major renovations with, the latest developments, new modern £300,000 kennels being built for the dogs.

Bleakholt was started by Olive Lomas who saved Maudie the donkey from slaughter in 1957 which they led her to start saving other animals.

In the 1960s and 70s, the cats and dogs were housed in a wooden building and the horses in old railway carriages as it was all the sanctuary could afford.

Some of the donkeys that live at Bleakholt

Some of the donkeys that live at Bleakholt

However since then the sanctuary, which relies solely on donations and costs over around £1m to run every year, has expanded to include a puppy unit, an outside equine area, a renovated dog agility area and a new kitten building, built this year.

It cares for around 450 animals - dogs, cats and small animals for rehoming and horses, donkeys, goats, pigs and more which live their lives out at the sanctuary.

Now there is major rebuilding work as the sanctuary, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, looks to modernise its buildings and make sure the animals have the best possible facilities to live in while they either wait for their new homes or settle into life in Rossendale.

The new kennels are being built by Accrington construction firm Ross Lee Construction, with other plans in the pipeline of updating the visitor entrance, having a quiet area where people can sit with dogs they may be planning to rehome as well as maybe a picnic area as they bring the sanctuary into the modern era.

“It has needed refurbishment and the kennels are just the start, ” said Sanctuary Manager Karen Weed.

“The kennels were essential as we had old kennels which had been built over 50 years ago and badly needed updating. They will be finished in October and the dogs moved in then but we have big plans to make the sanctuary even more comfortable for the animals with us.

“It is tough at the moment as we are having more dogs than ever dropped off at the sanctuary, especially older dogs, through no fault of their own, such as their owners unfortunately dying or people’s circumstances change.

“We are desperate for them to go to loving homes as they deserve to live out the rest of their lives in a family home. We have especially had an influx of staffies, and they are lovely dogs.

“We do rehome a lot of dogs so it is positive – we would just like to see even more go to forever homes."

After the kennels, Karen hopes they can start work on 10 old exercise runs they have for the dogs, to make them more adequate, introduce dog friendly plants and put in enrichment and toys for the dogs to enjoy. The idea being to create and a calm and enriching area that the dogs can relax in away from the kennels.

“We want to make it a relaxing area for the dogs and also an area that people can spend time with the dogs in, with the recent hot weather, some of the tarmac has cracked and is in desperate need of replacement. We are hoping to get sponsors involved so we can do this as soon as possible.”

Bleakholt’s president is Strictly star Gemma Atkinson and their vice president is radio star Ted Robbins while the Rt Hon Anne Widdecombe recently opened the new kitten unit at Bleakholt and Karen says it is full.

“We have so many kittens and cats in at the moment. People have abandoned them in cat baskets on our lane, they have just left them at our doors and then people have brought in strays.

“We try not to turn any away but we do have a waiting list and we are also looking for foster carers to look after kittens.”

Over in the farm section as well as the pigs, horses, donkeys, goats, ducks, hens and one old sheep, Howard, two young lambs have been added to the happy animals in the Rossendale sunshine.

“Two Soay lambs were taken to be put down,” said Karen “Their mum had died and they were only two days old.

“We were asked to help and we took them in, hand-reared them and they will live out their lives here now and have a lovely life which is great to see.”

Anyone who wants to support Bleakholt, contact Karen on Karen.weed@bleakholt.com. They would love to hear from companies who can help with sponsorship, with volunteer work around the sanctuary or any help.