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Animal shelter inundated with £13,000 in donations after desperate plea for help to rescue horses and puppies.

By Victoria O'Hara

12th January 2015​

It issued a desperate plea for help - and you responded with overwhelming generosity. An animal shelter has spoken of the tremendous public response after the Belfast Telegraph highlighted the plight of animals in its care.

Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary in Co Antrim saw £13,000 of donations flood in after our readers were moved by the stories of the influx of horses needing new homes over Christmas - and a dog called Skipper.

Most of a litter of nine pups have since found new homes, and the future is also looking better for the two-year-old retriever cross who had been abused by his owner and needed a new home.

Skipper had endured a life of pain in north Belfast until a member of the public witnessed his owner beating him and stopped to intervene.

Sanctuary owner Lyn Friel said she was confident Skipper would find his new home very soon.

"The article about Skipper has raised awareness of what we do and people have been just wonderful in helping. There have been lots of people up to see him, they just haven't been suitable. There are more lined up to visit.

"Skipper is a very lovely dog, very, very active and lively and is going to need a special person to home him."

When Skipper arrived he was covered in cuts and emaciated.

The woman who intervened was bitten by the owner as she told him to stop his violence against the dog, but because of her bravery, his life changed for ever. After loving care at Crosskennan, he is full of energy and healthy.

"Skipper is such an intelligent dog. He would suit a home with an owner who would be interested in agility and hill walking."

Despite his troubled past, Skipper has no fear of humans and is extremely affectionate.

Lyn said she had also been delighted after homes for a litter of nine black lurch/springer cross pups have been found. Their mother was a welfare case and had nine pups after being rescued.

"One woman who came to look at Skipper actually ended up taking three pups!" said Lyn.

"After the article in the Belfast Telegraph there was a lot of interest, and there are just two pups left out of the litter who need homes."

At Christmas the sole rescue centre for abandoned horses had to start putting animals to sleep in order to stay afloat and an appeal went out for people to try and help.

On Boxing Day the sanctuary received 16 abandoned horses, many of which were pregnant. The number of horses being abandoned has been increasing.

Crosskennan receives no Government funding and therefore relies on public donations to continue to rescue Northern Ireland's unwanted horses.

Animal sanctuaries across the province were full over the Christmas period.

Lyn says irresponsible breeding is one of the main reasons for the overwhelming number of horses and ponies, cats and dogs that it is burdened with throughout the year.

"We are just so grateful," she said. "The donations have been about £13,000. It has definitely taken the pressure off. We believe that 2015 will be a good year for us if we continue to work hard.

"So we are delighted with the response. We would like to thank everyone who has helped."

To offer help, foster or adopt an animal, or to donate money to Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, please telephone 028 9446 5384, email or visit them at 26 Crosskennan Lane, Ballynoe, Co Antrim.

How you can help

There are 40,000 abandoned horses across the island of Ireland - last year 27,000 went for slaughter - four times more than England, Scotland and Wales combined. Animal sanctuaries rely on donations from the public to continue their work. People can help in other ways, such as volunteering in roles, from socialising animals to cleaning. Most charities ask for a donation to rehome an animal to cover vet bills, spaying and innoculations. 

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