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2024 New year appeal – Huge rise in neglected animals rescued since Christmas!

Updated: Feb 9

Crosskennan is struggling and needs your help!  We are appealing for funds to help cover costs arising from a dramatic spike in animal rescues following the Christmas holiday period, combined with the pressures of HUGE winter costs.


Firstly, we want to say a massive thankyou to all our kind supporters for all of your continued support and generosity during this winter period.  This has made such a difference and we were able to clear all of our outstanding bills in December.


Spike in number of cats rescued including one of the biggest cat rescues in Crosskennan’s history!

Approximately 41 cats have been rescued since the beginning of January, including an individual rescue of 29 severely neglected cats taken from one house (below).  

The majority of the 29 cats required significant veterinary treatment due to malnutrition. This included overnight stays to receive IV antibiotics and fluids (due to dehydration), antibiotics, anti-sickness injections and the supply of special dietary foods.  All of the rescued cats needed to be spayed/neutered, microchipped and given flea and worm treatments.

Sadly, 3 of the 29 cats passed away as they were just too unwell but we are doing what we can to ensure the remaining get back to full health and go on to live a life they deserve.

Little Lala (left and below with siblings) was one of the 29 rescued that came into the care of the sanctuary. She was very ill with cat flu which then developed into pneumonia. She needed intensive veterinary care over a period of weeks, as well as constant care and attention from her foster mum.  Lala had to be syringe fed and given steam and nebulizing treatments.  Her siblings have gone on to be rehomed but Lala, although greatly improved, will require a few weeks recuperation before rehoming can be considered. 


Rise in animals requiring medical treatments

The cold and wet winter conditions continue to exasperate the health conditions of a significant number of our equine family.  This includes our horses and ponies suffering from pain due to arthritis, especially our older residents such as lovely Lucy the Shetland (left) and Cyril the donkey. This requires additional veterinary and specialized heat treatments to give them pain relief which add to our costs.


Bonnie and Barney (above) came to us at the end of last year.  They had spent a lot of their lives living outside before coming to us. Bonnie had to have surgery to remove two benign mammary tumours. Barney also had a visit to the vet to investigate his movement. On his arrival we noticed he had an unusual gait, and despite the vets having no immediate concerns, this is something that may require further investigation.  

Bonnie and Barney’s experience of the world outside of their previous home and Crosskennan is limited. They are sweet, loving souls who are very bonded to each other.  We have therefore been looking for a home for them together where they are the only dogs, which has been difficult to find. Although they have not found their own home yet, they are actively engaged in Crosskennan's dog handling and training programme for students and our volunteers also.

The vetinary treatments and costs of caring for them has unfortunately further added to our winter bills.



Crosskennan receives ZERO government funding and there is a large gap between our running costs and our income, despite our continuous efforts in fundraising and applying for grants.  This combined with the spike in rescues and extensive winter costs has unfortunately led to funds becoming low again.

We are appealing for funds to help cover the following costs in particular:

• Vet bills – Winter has further impacted this due to the surge in rescue cases since Christmas and many animals requiring medical treatment.  Costs this year are extremely high.

• Hay – we require more as our equines have to come in from grazing during winter but as there is less availability, prices have increased significantly.

• Bedding – We need double the amount of bedding compared to the summer.  Poor weather conditions also result in water and mud being walked into horse’s beds. We cannot use straw as an alternative due to the number of equines on-site with dust allergies, breathing problems or COPD.

• Oil - The cats, dogs and birds all need extra heating to keep them warm.

• Electric bills have increased due to extra blankets and towels needing washed and increased lighting is required due to shorter days in the winter.

• Repairs – The sanctuary is in great need of maintenance and repairs which has been further impacted by the recent bad weather conditions.


We understand that finances are tight, but we have no choice but to ask!  If you can support, in any way, big or small, we would sincerely appreciate it.


Why is Crosskennan so important?

Crosskennan, the largest equine sanctuary in Northern Ireland, is integral to animal welfare so we must always ensure we have sufficient funds to keep our good work going!  It is the longest-established horse sanctuary in the country, but also rescues many dogs, cats and other small animals.

We currently house 40 plus horses, along with over 60 dogs, cats and chickens. Many of these animals require Crosskennan's experience and expertise. We rehome where we can and there is great potential to expand the work we do to support the community, through animal assisted therapy activities and using our expertise to educate and train people on animals.

We do so much including:

• Rescuing and rehoming animals; we have rescued thousands of animals over the years.

• Educating the general public on animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.

• Supporting young people and vulnerable adults in the community – we work with adults with disabilities and mental health issues, elderly people, ex offenders - through groupwork, animal assisted therapies, volunteering, education, training etc.

• Teaching volunteers, the general public and placement students on dog handling/training and animal care.

• Many of our volunteers feel that Crosskennan gives them a meaningful purpose in life and would be lost without us.

• Leading changes to improve NI’s outdated animal welfare legislation and increase sentencing for animal welfare offences.


Future of Crosskennan

Our main priority is, as always, to continue to provide a safe haven for animals in need and promote education around animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.  

Another key objective going forward is to make the sanctuary as efficient and self-sufficient as possible, making the most of donations, through the following;

• Minimizing running costs – we are currently undergoing a review of our costs to identify efficiencies including savings and ensuring we are getting the best value for money with suppliers.

• Developing our Animal Assisted Therapy activities – there is so much potential to grow this and expand our work with people in the community, including those with disabilities and mental health issues, young people, elderly, the probation service etc

• Further developing our network of volunteers which if we had more help, could in turn help improve both of the above!


Help us make Crosskennan the best it can be!  


We have to remember we are seeking help for our animals, their welfare is always our priority.


How to help

To donate please click the below:

Alternatively text the following to 70460:

HELPCLAS followed by any amount for a recurring donation* e.g. “HELPCLAS 5” for £5/month.

CLAS followed by any amount for a one-off donation

*Text STOP at any time to cancel

If interested in adopting any of our animals or volunteering you can visit Crosskennan’s website at for more information or request a paper application in writing or email via the contact details below:

26 Crosskennan Lane,


BT41 2QY

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