30 years ago I went to the dogs – and I’ve never looked back!
Tails are wagging at Dogs Trust Leeds this December as Rehoming Centre Manager Amanda Sands celebrates 30 years of finding homeless dogs their furry-tail endings – and providing several forever homes for four-legged friends herself!
When Amanda started working for the charity in 1986, office computers were few and far between, mobile phones were the size of toasters and only used for talking to people and e-mail was a thing of the future.
“The difference between then and now is incredible”, says Amanda who lives in Otley. “We had paper everywhere because we didn’t have computers, we didn’t have the internet to help us find homes for our dogs and even more importantly the environment for the dogs was totally different.”
In the beginning
Dogs Trust Leeds was originally based on a small site in Adel and Amanda would see, and hear, the dogs when she went to look after her horse in a nearby field. As a dog lover the temptation became too much and she started volunteering for the charity, doing everything from walking the dogs and cleaning the kennels to talking to potential adopters.
She remembers: “I simply couldn’t resist. We’d always had dogs in our family and I just wanted to do what I could. I volunteered for quite a few years and then the manager’s job was advertised and I got it! As they say the rest is history!”
Back then the staff consisted of just Amanda and one other person and one block of kennels. Now, on their 35 acre York Road site which Dogs Trust Leeds moved to in 2006, the 30-strong team can care for at least 100 dogs, there is a dedicated puppy suite, a veterinary suite and the staff include specialist training and behaviourists.
Amanda says: “It’s so different today, it’s wonderful! Dogs Trust leads the way when it comes to kennel design and people so often comment on how quiet it is when they come because the dogs are so relaxed.
“We know so much more about what makes a dog happy and healthy than we did when I first started and whilst they are with us we do everything we possibly can to give them everything they need and help them find their forever homes.”
Dogs in need
Sadly one of the things that hasn’t changed over the decades is the constant stream of dogs who are abandoned and find themselves without a home through no fault of their own, making the charity’s slogan, “A dog is for life not just for Christmas®”, as relevant as ever.
Amanda says even after 30 years she is still shocked when dogs come in in a terrible state and she is as passionate as ever about finding them their best possible home. Which is why, over the years, as well as waving goodbye to thousands of dogs, Amanda has welcomed quite a few into her own home.
She says: “I’m never without a dog at home and since working here I’ve adopted them usually because they have some kind of health problem and tugged at my heart strings more than ever. Two of the ones I adopted had three legs and my current dog, Clooney, is blind so it’s fantastic to be able to give them a loving home.
“I am definitely of the opinion that a house is not a home without a dog and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone across Yorkshire and beyond who has adopted one of our beautiful dogs and given them the second chance and loving home they all deserve.”