Fire destroys dogs home
Yesterday morning I woke up to the news that a suspected arson attack had destroyed Manchester Dogs Home. One of the oldest and largest rescues in the country, it was founded in 1893 and takes in over 7000 dogs each year and the apparent deliberate destruction of this place of refuge and care hit me hard. When I thought about the dogs trapped in their kennels while fire destroyed all around them and then their lives – reports suggest 60 were killed and 150 injured – the terror and pain they must have experienced is too awful to contemplate. Many of them in the Centre find themselves there through abandonment and abuse, they had already experienced the dark side of human life and to perish that way makes my heart ache. And I mean ache, it’s not a phrase for effect, I felt pained all day at the utter agony of this story.
But, amidst the horror of what transpired Thursday night, acts of individual, spontaneous courage by some were reported. Two local men, hearing the cries of the trapped dogs rushed to release those they could, leading them to safety and risking their own lives. This story shows the inherent decency of many people when they see animals suffering and it is easy to forget the majority of humans are kind to animals when we see cruelty, neglect and worse all around. On top of the individual acts of bravery, local people flocked during the night to the centre with donations, offers of help, items for the dogs, anything and everything they thought would be useful they took along. During yesterday, there were reports of people travelling from all over the country to offer help. This overwhelming, immediately positive response shows a depth of compassion for dogs, and those who care for them. I found this deeply moving yesterday, a feeling that was bolstered as a social media fuelled wave of generosity raised a phenomenal sum of money through the day. At the time of writing, the total money raised is over £1.2 million. A staggering sum to raise in a short period of time and great testament to how this story has touched people.
Yet, while this outpouring of help, generosity and practical support raised my spirits, today I can’t shift the sadness that amongst all the amazing energy that will ensure the Centre will rise again so it can continue to do all the valuable work they have for well over a hundred years, the need for that work shows no signs of diminishing. Yesterday on social media I urged people to donate what they could but also to look at their local rescue centres and regularly help them in any way they can as every week they need help, not just in the aftermath of a devastating event. UK dogs and cats are in the middle of a terrible, ongoing tragedy: rescues around the country are full and overflowing because too many are being bred and bought on whims, casually discarded when those who buy them feel like it. Thousands of dogs are killed every year purely because there are not enough caring homes for them. There is a culture now that doesn’t see dogs and cats as our lifelong companions and the rescues, like Manchester Dogs Home are the places that people dump them.
I want people to look beyond the immediate awful story and while they donate money, goods, skills and time, also do all they can to encourage others to not buy the puppy on a whim, not breed the dog for cash, or because it will be “nice for her to have a litter”. Aside from the thought of the poor souls on Thursday night, these are the other reasons my heart aches when I think of the fire and what it’s done.
This piece piece I came across yesterday afternoon expresses all I feel and more.
Donate here to the fund.