A Pudsey dog-lover is celebrating 20 years of helping out homeless hounds whilst they wait to win the hearts of a loving family.
Denice Townson has notched up an incredible 13,000 hours of volunteering – approximately 540 days, or a year and a half – plus she and her husband have also adopted four dogs from Dogs Trust Leeds.
It was seeing a distressed dog in Leeds city centre during her lunch break that led to Denice first getting involved with the charity.
“She was in a terrible state and one of my colleagues already volunteered at the rehoming centre so my first thought was to take her there and that was it, I was hooked!”
From that day Denice, who spent her working life as a teacher, retiring from Notre Dame Sixth Form College in Leeds in 2010, started visiting the rehoming centre several times a week, devoting as much time as possible to looking after and walking the dogs.
“To volunteer as well as adopt is fantastic as you’re helping lots of dogs, rather than just one and I’ve particularly built a bond with dogs that sadly have a very long wait for their special someone to fall in love with them. Most of the dogs we’ve adopted have had medical or behavioural issues and could have found themselves waiting quite some time for a home, so it has been wonderful to give them a forever home.”
One of the dogs Denice looks after is three-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Desmond, who found himself without a home after being injured in a road traffic accident.
“Desmond is a real character. We go on great walks, and we also have lots of cuddles and I always bring him some sausages which he loves. It would be a dream come true if he was to find his forever home.
“Seeing dogs head off with their new owners is definitely one of the best things about volunteering and thousands have headed home over the years, but it’s particularly wonderful when a dog that has been at the rehoming centre for a long time finds their ideal home.”
Volunteers help out at the York Road Rehoming Centre every day and Rehoming Centre Manager, Amanda Sands, says they are a vital part of the team.
“We look after about 100 dogs every day of the year, all of whom need walking, feeding and lots of TLC so committed volunteers like Denice are vital to helping us make sure they get everything they need whilst they are with us.
“We can’t thank Denice enough for her commitment over the years; she’s incredible. The place wouldn’t be the same without her and we’re hoping she’s with us for many years to come!”
If you would like to find out more about volunteering, please call 0300 303 0292 to discuss opportunities.