Covid-19 update: Our rehoming centres in England will be closed to the public until lockdown lifts in early December. We’re still rehoming and taking in dogs, with increased social distancing measures in place to keep our staff and adopters safe.

Happy ever after for abandoned Akita, Rafiki

A stray dog who was unable to be touched due to a horrible skin condition, has headed off to her ‘fur-ever’ home after Dogs Trust changed her tale, from stray dog to family dog. 

Rafiki, a five-year-old Akita, arrived at Dogs Trust Leeds in July after being found as a stray. On her arrival at the centre, Dogs Trust vets stepped in immediately to treat a skin condition that was causing Rafiki a lot of discomfort, affecting her muzzle, ears and paws.

Initially she didn’t want to interact with anyone, she didn’t want to be touched and she wouldn’t get out of her bed. The charity believe Rafiki may have been abandoned because of the cost of treating her condition.

But now, with lots of love and attention from the centre’s canine carers, Rafiki has had an amazing transformation. Within just a few weeks of her arrival, Rafiki’s ears and tail were up and the rehoming centre started the search to find her a loving home.

Rafiki quickly caught the attention of a young couple from Leeds who were keen to complete the move into their first house with a dog of their own.

Her new owner Luke Towell said:

"Myself and my girlfriend Louise had always wanted an Akita or a Husky, so when we moved out of our flat and into our first house with a garden in June, we started looking for a dog to adopt. We saw Rafiki on Dogs Trust’s website and really wanted to meet her. She’s such a loving dog – always around us, incredibly attentive and interested by everything. She has very quickly settled into our home and our routine and we think she looks even happier now than when we first met her!"

Luke and Louise visited Dogs Trust Leeds on several occasions to build up a bond with Rafiki before finally taking her home in September.

Amanda Sands, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Leeds, said:

"We are so pleased we could change Rafiki’s tale from stray dog to family dog in just a few months. This skin condition was something that could be treated, and we are thankful that we could help. It’s just so sad to think her owners may have felt that they had no choice. Unfortunately, her story is increasingly common as the number of stray and abandoned dogs being brought into our care is rising all the time. Especially now, as people’s lives change as a result of Coronavirus.

"The sad reality is that in times of financial hardship many people may struggle to cope with looking after their dogs. We saw this in 2008, and we’re extremely concerned that history could repeat itself in the coming months, with as many as 40,000 more dogs at risk of abandonment in the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.  

"If anyone is struggling to care for their dog, for whatever reason, please get in touch with us and we’ll do all we can to help."

Dogs Trust estimates that up to 40,000 more dogs could be abandoned as a result of Coronavirus. As dogs and their owners face hardships that could break them apart, the charity wants to be there to protect that bond, and to make people aware of how they can help before the situation becomes desperate.

Since lockdown, 957 stray or abandoned dogs have been taken in by Dogs Trust.

Whilst rehoming was paused temporarily at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Dogs Trust rehoming centre staff have been able to responsibly find their dogs the right homes through a virtual matching service - using video-based home checks and socially distanced appointments, either at the rehoming centres, or by taking the dogs out to adopters’ homes.

Dogs Trust rehoming centres remain closed for public browsing.