BRIGHT EYES Animal Sanctuary continues to build on the legacy of the late Pat Nolan, with 246 dogs and 93 cats finding new homes last year.
Based outside Ballinamallard the sanctuary has been operating now for 26 years, providing a home for the unwanted, stray and mistreated dogs and cats in Fermanagh. As long as there was space, Pat and his team never turned an animal away and that remains the case today.
Sanctuary manager Simon Bryant explained that he worked with Pat for 18 years. After initially planning to stay for seven months, all the way back in 1995, he remains a permanent fixture 20 years on. He told the Herald Pat’s brainchild has fittingly become his legacy since his death on Valentines Day, 2013.
“That was the point for me, having worked with him for so long, I didn’t want the place to fold. I’ve been a full time volunteer here for 20 years and after I first got involved I couldn’t leave him, because he needed the help.
Sometimes it can be frustrating to catch a feral or something like that, but they’re all great dogs and cats. The great thing for me is to see the animals go and find a suitable home.”
The Ballinamallard sanctuary was initially a farm, but over 20 years on the site it has developed into a home for hundreds of animals, with catteries complete with donated sofas, kennels with yards and accommodation in the house catering for all types of animal, from kittens and puppies to elderly dogs and feral cats. Simon is part of a 35 strong team of volunteers who do everything from office work to, cleaning out the catteries, to walking dogs, with the charity reliant on local support to keep going.
The sanctuary never turns an animal away and as Mr Bryant explained they can at times receive animals that have been mistreated, including one at present, a 2 and a half-year-old Staffy suspected of being used in badger baiting.
“More people know about us now so we are re-homing a lot more animals than we were,” continued Mr Bryant. “ 246 dogs is by far our best year and 93 cats is not bad either. Facebook helps definitely. I think more people know about us now since Pat died as there was a lot of publicity over his death. ”
While Mr Bryant says there is no happier moment than when a cat or dog find its new home, there are strict conditions which must be met before any animal is handed over.
“First thing is they come up and see the animal, then we ask everyone to fill in an application form. We then conduct a home visit. One of the things we look for is that the animals are securely fenced in.”
All animals re-homed from Bright Eyes are spayed or neutered and have had at least one vaccine.
Bright Eyes are hosting a free open day on Saturday August 29 from 1pm to 5pm at the sanctuary. Along with stalls, games and activities for the family under the cover of marquees it will provide people with a chance to look around facilities.
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