Alice just played host to Diana Brusi founder of the charity Terrier SOS, who was accompanied by the delightful Waldo. Diana and her team of volunteers have been doing wonderful work rescuing terriers from dire circumstances around Europe and bringing them to the UK to find loving homes. Alice Foxx will be doing what we can to help her with donations, and getting the word out. We asked Diana to tell us more about the charity…
Why did you start Fox Terrier SOS?
“Well, one of the things that started Terrier SOS off was the fact that there were so many Fox Terriers, mostly in Europe, who were showing up in the pound, and nobody was helping them. And because we have such a passion, not just for Fox Terriers, but for Airdales and Welshies and Lakelands, we decided that as we could help them, we should. These are dogs that are really, really desperate. The situation in Spain and some of the other countries in Europe is pretty bleak and we’ve helped some very needy dogs that would more than likely have been put to sleep. And now they’re having a new life here, because people want to adopt them.”
How log have you been operating?
“We’ve been going for about four years and the reason it evolved is because the UK became open to a different passport scheme. Before it used to take six months following a blood test, then we went to the twenty one days after rabies vaccination. So we were then able to bring in dogs without having that long six month wait.”
What does the work involve?
“Its a huge amount of volunteers, some very wonderful people coming together from all over. We start with dogs already in pounds. We will be notified by one of our volunteers who will reserve the dog, take it from the pound. We fully vaccinate, organise blood tests, and start the process of getting their passport and paperwork done. We have people who will also get them groomed, and will socialise with them. And then they will be transported to the UK, where we work with kennels, volunteer fosters, and behaviourists. A large group of people who come together for the good of the dogs. No one is paid, everybody has a passion for it. So it is a huge amount of effort. Some of our fosters will have the dogs for several weeks, others for months, because we are trying to match them with the perfect home.”
I imagine you also have quite large vet bills?
“We do. When we get a dog, we know nothing about it, we just get sent a photo. So we have to make some assumptions about what the cost is going to be. For instance Waldo was one of the first dogs, he was diagnosed with distemper. When he came he was so sick with neurological damage he could barely stand, he had ulcers on his eyes, he had constant infections and anaemia. We couldn’t have predicted it, it was just one of those things that happened. The bill from the Royal Veterinary Hospital was over £1,500, and a lot of fund raising was done for him. But now, four years on he’s doing wonderfully and you wouldn’t know he was ever sick. So yes, some of the bills can be very large, and they will be ongoing. But we do support families that take on our special dogs, and help with medical expenses.”
How do you find new fosters for your dogs?
“ We do advertise through social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, but most come through word of mouth – they meet one of our fosters and realise how wonderful the dogs are, and generally speaking that’s how we do it. A lot of our current fosters help to get the word out about what fostering does. It saves a dog from going into kennels, and it also helps the dog start the adjustment into becoming a pet. Because the majority of our dogs have never really lived in a home, sometimes they’ve never even lived indoors, and they need some adjustment period. The world can be a very fearful place and the fosters help them understand the world around them.”
Finally, if someone wants to help, what can they do?
“We are always in need of funds to help with our work, so donations are always welcome. Also, we need people willing to foster dogs while they are looking for new homes. If you can provide a safe and secure environment, then we’d love to hear from you. Fosters are vital to rescue, and they have the toughest job, but the compassion and love they offer to these dogs is the first important step on the road to help them live again. And of course we are ultimately seeking to re-home our dogs, so if you’re interested in fostering or offering a dog a loving home, then please look at our website or Facebook page for more information.”