Merseyside dogs home Save animals from anymore suffering

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The following statement was written by a former volunteer from Merseyside Dogs Home. We need to warn you from the outset. The information disclosed is truly shocking and heartbreaking. We know that, like us, you will be outraged that this has been allowed to continue for so long.

We will be posting further information about what people can do over the weekend. The local authorities who contract to Merseyside Dogs Home clearly need to be contacted. However they have just given the centre a clean bill of health following what they call an 'audit'. Furthermore the volunteer, who made the statement below, made a complaint to Halton and Liverpool Council at the time. They took no action whatsoever, and, as we now know, the neglect has continued. However, sheer weight of public pressure and media attention may now force the local authorities to act.

Anyway, here is the statement. A genuinely shocking account of animal neglect at Merseyside Dogs Home.

"I volunteered at Merseyside Dogs Home for nine months in 2015. This is an account of things that I saw and heard at the centre during that time.

I used to volunteer at the centre with my friend once or twice a week. One of the reasons I volunteered there was that it was meant to be a "no kill" shelter. Within a short time, however, we realised that there was something seriously wrong.

All of the dogs had kennel cough, diarrhoea, bloody poo, smelt of urine and were dirty. Dogs were kennelled outside, even in freezing weather. At first, we were only allowed to walk the dogs which were brought to us. We noticed how thin, nervous and dirty that most of them looked. We were told not to feed them treats, but we did anyway.

On one occasion we arrived to walk the dogs, and we saw the dog warden van pull up at the kennels. We saw three dogs taken out of the van, and led to the back of the kennels. They were put straight in to kennels with other dogs in.

We then took our allotted dogs for a walk. When we got back from the walk, there was an awful sound, and members of staff ran towards the back of the kennels. They brought out two dogs covered in blood. One of the staff said, "These two shits have been fighting". The dogs were tied up in the vet room, while we were quickly given some other dogs to walk. When we came back, around two hours later, both dogs were still tied up in the vet room, both covered in blood. One had a ripped ear, which was dripping blood. One of the senior staff said "They can stay there now, as they are going to another rescue". I asked which rescue they would go to, but got no answer. I now know the truth.

When we walked the dogs, we would be asked by staff at the centre if they had pulled on the lead. We found out that if we said a dog had pulled too hard, it would be put on the van to go to Leigh Dogs and Cats Home.

On one occasion, we arrived at the centre and every kennel had 2,3 or 4 dogs in. A van with some strays turned up, and staff ran around very quickly throwing dogs into kennels. They paired two stray dogs up quickly, with no assessment, as it was nearly closing time. The manager Paul Dunne said "They can wait until morning".

Another time, we witnessed dogs fighting in the kennels and they were both injured. Paul Dunne simply said "Well, that's two less". I never saw those dogs again.

On a number of occasions, I heard one of the senior managers singing a song going up and down the kennels, making fun of which dogs she would have put to sleep, and which dogs she wouldn't. Even to this day, I can't stand to hear this song. A list of dogs to send to Leigh Dogs and Cats Home would be drawn up each week. Dogs would be selected to be put to sleep if they had been at the centre for too long or if it was full to capacity.

Every week a van would arrive to take dogs to Leigh Dogs and Cats Home to be put to sleep. Up to six at a time, and virtually always bull breeds or lurchers. Or big dogs. Paul Dunne hated big dogs. They looked scared and very underweight as they were loaded on to the van.

A senior member of staff once said to me "There's a rottie in the back, I hate them. It's going tomorrow, it's horrible". He had only been picked up 2 days before as a stray. I found out later that he had been put to sleep before his 7 days were up.

As I have mentioned, Paul Dunne was the manager. Paul used to speak quite openly to me. He liked me, as I was working at Asda at the time and used to bring in donated beds, harnesses and food.

We used to fundraise once a month outside Speke Pets at Home. Paul would come with us. People would ask us if Merseyside Dogs Home was non-kill. Paul would tell us and anyone that asked that no, they did not kill dogs. He used to say "All our dogs are looked after and have a home with us" He bragged that the rescue got more money if he said that.

Paul told me once that he did not see the point in feeding strays that he did not think would sell, or that he would struggle to sell, as it was a "waste of food". Many strays came in, to which he said either "Yes" or "No". He did not see the point in feeding those he rejected, as they would be immediately put to sleep after 7 days.

I witnessed a lady bringing a car full of dog food, such as Arden Grange, James Wellbeloved and some wet food to the Home. Someone put it to one side so the manager could take it for his dog.

Alot of plastic beds were donated: they went into Paul's car, and he said he would sell them for funds. A bonus ball was set up to raise money for treats for the dogs. Money was raised, but no treats were ever bought that I saw, and I think the bonus ball was stopped.

On one occasion, a husky bitch was adopted by a young family. The centre told them she was spayed, but after they had her a week, she gave birth to ten puppies. The family struggled to cope, so she ended up back at the centre nursing ten pups in a cold kennel. After 4 weeks, they removed the pups from mum, and put them in a narrow kennel behind the vet room, next to a kennel with some kittens in. I was told by a member of staff (who still works there) that puppies have to be removed early from their mum for this particular breed.

All the pups had diarrhoea, worms etc. We went to see them, and they were dirty, smelly and very unsocialised. Mum was kept separate, and the pups were sold at 6 weeks old. As usual, no home checks were carried out.

Another time, a dog was lying in a pool of blood in a kennel. I was told that a vet was coming to look at it. We walked our dogs for 4 hours, and still no vet had appeared. The next week, I was told that she had died two days later and still hadn't seen a vet. She died in her own blood. Alone.

There was another dog that came in as a stray - a husky. He was chipped and had a phone number attached. Paul's response was "They're horrible dogs. I hate big dogs". He was sent to Leigh. Under 7 days.

A border terrier also came in. He was sent to "another rescue", and I never saw him again.

One old dog came in as a stray, around 15 years old. I offered to take her home until she was claimed or gifted. But my offer was declined. Like alot of strays, she wasn't claimed. She was outside in a kennel, freezing, wet and miserable. She died 2 days later. A friend of mine found her in the outside kennel, already dead.

Some members of staff did as best they could to save dogs, which were due to go on the 'list'. For example there was a greyhound named Wacky Warehound. She was a lovely dog. Nothing phased her. She wasn't aggressive and got on fine with other dogs. I used to walk her together with another dog, Jack. But she had been there for too long, and I was told by a member of staff that she was on the list to go to Leigh. The day she was due to be taken away, they managed to get her a place at the Greyhound Trust. A very lucky escape.

The main reason I left Merseyside Dogs Home was due to what happened with a dog called Jack: a young bouncy bull breed. I used to walk him every week, as he needed an experienced walker. He was only walked once a week! Jack's story has also been reported on this page, from the lady who had to return him to the centre.

I arrived one week, and asked to walk Jack. He was in a kennel that was all boarded up, dark, cold and wet. He was soaking wet. The senior staff came to me and I was told "You're not walking him today, he's been a bastard". When I asked why his kennel was boarded up, she simply told me to "____ off". The staff member left the centre the following week, and I returned to walk Jack. He was still in darkness outside, with cold, wet flooring. When I walked him, I brought a long training lead, so he could run safely and burn energy. He had lost weight, and his nails long, with some snapped and bleeding. He was great on the lead as always, and loved running in the woods. I gave the staff a report on how good he was when out, but they told me I was lying, and he was a "nasty shit". Thankfully he was adopted the week after, and for a while I was over the moon.

Not long after, Jack was returned to the centre. I was gutted. A family member of Paul's told me, "I can't believe that he is back". I took him out for a walk straight away, and we sat having cuddles on the field in the sun. Being in a home had clearly suited Jack. He was relaxed and calm.

Jack was then placed back in the boarded up kennel. I went back for 3 weeks in a row, to be told I wasn't allowed to take Jack out. After 5 weeks in total, I looked for another member of staff, (Paul and all senior staff were off site) to ask if I could walk Jack. When he was handed to me, I could have sobbed. He looked broken. Shivering, thin, cut pads. He was covered in his own urine. I took photos of him when we were away from the home (after I left, I gave these to the council and RSPCA). I wanted to get him out of there, and I decided on the way back to the centre, that I would pay to adopt him. When we came back, he was backing away from the gates. He didn't want to go back.

I managed to get him down the path to the office, and one of Paul's family members came out. She said to me, "God I hate that dog". I told her that he was only a baby, 10 or 12 months old, and that he was still learning so much every day. I told her there and then that I would adopt him, and she muttered something back to me. She came out with a slip lead, and went to put it on him, although he already had one on from our walk. He growled at her, and she screeched at the top of her voice, "Did you hear that! That thing growled at me!"

Jack was then ragged from my hands and dragged through the gate. He was looking back at me. Broken. There was nothing I could do, only promise to return the next day to buy him. To save him.

When I went the next day, he had already been sent to Leigh Dogs and Cats Home, to be put to sleep for growling at staff.

I will never forgive them for what they did to Jack. After I left, I tried to do something about it locally. I contacted Liverpool and Halton Council. I told them what had happened, and showed them the photos I had taken of Jack. But they were not interested. I contacted my MP Derek Twigg. He was sympathetic, but he said that there was nothing he could do.

I am happy to provide further evidence about what I saw at Merseyside Dogs Home to the local authorities or to the Charity Commission."