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HomePet Industry NewsPet Charities NewsCost of living crisis impacts North Wales animal rescue centre

Cost of living crisis impacts North Wales animal rescue centre


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The team at North Clwyd Animal Rescue (NCAR) have seen no let up in the need for their services, in either taking animals in and those interested in pet adoption.

Nicky Owen is fundraising manager at NCAR, and she has seen many changes at the site, which her parents founded in 1978, and are still active in the site today.

The 36-year-old said: “It’s an emotional but rewarding job. Some days are lovely and some are just horrible.

“It’s rewarding when an animal comes in in a terrible way but they leave us for a loving home or we see the animals come back to visit on one of our open days.”

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Ncar Fundraising Manager Nicky Owen.

NCAR fundraising manager Nicky Owen.


Nicky, who has three dogs and a cat herself, is perplexed at the current situation of people buying then giving up animals, adding: “Just how do they have the money to do that?

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“In a lot of cases these are pedigree puppies, we’re getting French bulldogs, huskies, poodles, you name it, we’re getting it.

“But we’d rather they come to us in search of the right home, than be sold on Facebook or God knows where.”

The centre has barely recovered from the ‘pupdemic’ – created during covid, when people furloughed or working from home took on puppies.

Many were left with the stark reality of owning a dog once they had to go back to work, and the centre saw a huge intake.

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The pandemic also resulted in a lot of cats not being neutered, which in turn has led to a spike in kittens. Nicky adds all the animals that come into the centre, which has a non-destruct policy, get neutered.

The Trelogan-based site, near Holywell, currently has about 200 animals in their care, looking for their forever home – about 70-80 dogs, 100 cats/kittens, 20-30 rabbits and the odd guinea pig.

And while rehoming is their focus, it’s something the team take very seriously. Nicky explains that often they will pair an animal to the people, rather than potential adopters choosing one. Making sure each animal goes to the right home is a priority.


Ncar Founder Anne Owen Outside The Sites Veterinary Clinic.

NCAR founder Anne Owen outside the site’s veterinary clinic.


Nicky’s mum, Anne Owen, started the charity after a very thin, pregnant dog appeared in the garden one day. After a visit to the RSPCA, where sadly the pups didn’t survive, Anne then took the dog, now called Lady, home.

Things then took off for the animal lover. She said: “They asked me to join the Wrexham RSPCA committee. Then I heard about dogs being put down in the stray pounds in Flintshire, I said could we find kennels where they could go and I would rescue them but it couldn’t be afforded.

“So then I started it myself. We were collecting dogs from the pounds and taking them to kennels in Carmel and rehoming form there.

“We then started to look for new premises, which was helped by money left by a gentleman who had had a cat from us.

“And helping us from the beginning was the Jean Sainsbury Animal Welfare Trust.

“We’ve been left a place in Trefnant, where we’ve started horse, pony and donkey rescue, all things equine.”

Anne is clearly deeply committed. She said: “It’s my life, it’s everything to me. It’s lovely knowing our animals go to good homes.

“But it’s with the help of so many people that it’s grown, it’s not just been me.”


Ncar Kennels, It And Reception Staff Member Andy Horton, Outside The Welcoming Doriss Bunker Cafe At The Charitys Trelogan Site.

NCAR kennels, IT and reception staff member Andy Horton, outside the welcoming Doris’s Bunker cafe at the charity’s Trelogan site.


One of those playing an essential at the centre is Andy Horton.

The 46-year-old has been on the team since 2009, and works mainly in the kennels but also helps look after IT, reception “and anything else that’s needed”.

He said: “We cover on call for stray dogs for Denbighshire Council, and I’m one of the staff that goes out for that.”

Andy knows what a commitment a dog is. He has a collie that he got from NCAR, and adds: “He was nine-months-old when we got him, he’s 14-years now. It’s a long time.

“We’re getting a lot of small, high value dogs just now, and dogs from people who haven’t thought about life after covid, people who just don’t think beyond the cute phase.”

How do the staff stop themselves getting too attached to the animals?

Andy said: “There’s always one or two that you favour but it’s about seeing them leave us. You do have to harden to it.”


Kennel Hand And Behaviourist, Steve Owen, With Minnie In An Exercise Area Where The Dogs Can Safely Play Off The Lead.

Kennel hand and behaviourist, Steve Owen, with Minnie in an exercise area where the dogs can safely play off the lead.


Getting to know the animals is a big part of the rehabilitation and rehoming process. Taking a very hands-on role in that is Steve Owen, dog handler and kennel hand.

He has been with NCAR for about 10 years and works primarily with dogs. He learns the behaviour of dogs who often come to them with no known background, such as strays.

Steve, 34, said: “We have a range of breeds, temperaments, ages, range of backgrounds. We discover about them by being with them.

“We get nervous dogs who might need a bit more TLC, and just need someone to sit with them to let them know it’s ok.

“Some have behaviour issues – fear aggressive, food aggressive – some are nervous around other dogs, so we work on all of that.”

It’s this work with the dogs that allows NCAR to match them to their ideal home, with a thorough behaviour assessment on each animal.

Steve adds: “It’s never a 9 to 5 job, we finish when we finish, you never know what you’re going to deal with but it’s rewarding to see them go home.”


Nine Year Old Long Haired Maine Coon Cross Tilly At Ncar, Who Loves A Fussing If Shes Not Sleeping, And A Personal Favourite With Community Content Editor Claire Pierce.

Nine year old long haired Maine coon cross Tilly at NCAR, who loves a fussing if she’s not sleeping, and a personal favourite with community content editor Claire Pierce.


It’s of course not all dogs, with the centre home to more than 100 cats and kittens.

Taking charge of them is cattery supervisor Sarah Goodwin, who is also a vet nurse, often in the on-site surgery, who has worked at NCAR for about five years.

As she walks me through the cattery (and I resist the urge to adopt them all), she explains a bit more about the rehoming process.

Sarah, who has 15 cats of her own at home, said: “Cats are such individuals, some are timid and require a quiet home. Some are more outgoing and would be happier with families.

“You also have to take into account how roadwise they are, what they’ve been used to.

“When they first come in they are usually very nervous, so we let them settle. Then we get to know them.

“The same staff work with them every day, get to know their personalities. They are also neutered, vaccinated, flead and wormed.

“We want the right homes for them, and when we do, that’s fantastic.”

Sarah, who is also fostering one of the centre’s puppies, echoes the essential role of neutering. She said: “Throughout covid people weren’t getting their cats neutered, so kitten season is a nightmare at the moment.

“People’s cats will have kittens, they’ll be given away, won’t be neutered and it’s a vicious circle. We’re asked to take on kittens all the time.”


Rehoming Officer And Former Ncar Volunteer Louise Smith-Jones.

Rehoming officer and former NCAR volunteer Louise Smith-Jones.


Making sure the animals go to the right home is a great ethos at NCAR, and rehoming officer Louise Smith-Jones plays a big part in making sure that happens.

She said: “As a result of covid we went to the online adoption application process, which was much better.

“The adoption process includes a home check, and we can make sure people know what they’re taking on. When they come into the office, I let them talk and you find out so much more about their home life.”

Louise, 53, whose husband also volunteers at the centre, started as a volunteer herself about 10 years ago, adds.”It’s all about pairing up the right dog with the right home.”

The dedicated team of staff and volunteers help keep the centre going, seven days a week. And they are needed. Between the dog walking (most are exercised twice a day), laundry (it’s a huge ongoing process), cleaning, vet care, feeding, behaviour work, adoption processes, there is always something to be done.


A Family Of Ncar Volunteers With One Of The Dogs To Be Walked.

A family of NCAR volunteers with one of the dogs to be walked.


They are also looking for more volunteers, however much time they can spare, having seen numbers fall due to the pandemic.

They also welcome any donations of blankets, animal bedding and animal food. For more details, please visit

If you would like to support the charity without adopting, you can visit their cafe, Doris’s Bunker, open from 10.30am to 3.30pm. They also accept donations at the centre between 10am and 4pm.

You can also help by fundraising, sponsoring a kennel or supporting one of the NCAR charity shops in the region.

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