Last year was Hope Rescue's 15th year. We started in 2005 with a couple of volunteers, helping dogs in pounds that were due to be put to sleep. With no kennel spaces or foster homes, we simply moved dogs in need on to rescues that could help. We held car boot sales to raise funds and the same volunteers went in to the pounds and transported the dogs.
It soon became clear we couldn't place all the dogs in the pound, especially the bull breeds. We therefore rented some local boarding kennel spaces and recruited a couple of foster homes so we could help those we couldn't get rescue spaces for. We also started a rehoming service. This enabled us to formally commit to a couple of our local pounds to take all their strays, no matter their breed, how old they were or their medical condition.
In 2009 we registered as a charity, and also took the huge step of employing our first member of staff to co-ordinate with the pounds and arrange rescue spaces. Over the next few years our volunteer team grew, especially our incredible foster and fundraising teams.
In 2015 we opened our charity shop in Pontypridd to help raise additional funds. It was our dream, however, to own our own rescue centre so we could help even more local dogs. We didn't have any capital so worked hard to develop a business plan that didn't just rely on donations, but also delivered a sustainable income from enterprise activities including commercial boarding. At the same time RCT CBC were desperate to find a new home for their strays as they were closing the local pound.
In 2017 we realised our dream and purchased Cynllan Lodge Kennels in Llanharan. We took on the Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC stray dog contract, quickly followed by the Bridgend CBC and Vale of Glamorgan CBC contracts after their kennel operator pulled out with immediate notice. We also continued to take the unclaimed Merthyr Tydfil CBC and Torfaen CBC strays.
The kennels also enabled us to help both the Police and Local Authorities by taking dogs seized under the Animal Welfare Act, for example puppy farm dogs. Our staff and volunteer team grew and we're proud of the welfare standards we achieve, including Association of Dogs and Cats Home membership, our boarding licence and the RSPCA Footprint Gold award for kennelled dogs.
In 2018 we started our Amazing Greys project and commit to take every routinely surrendered and injured greyhound from our local track. In 2019 also took on the unclaimed Blaenau Gwent CBC strays.
We are proud to say that last year we helped a total of 907 dogs - huge growth since our humble beginnings. We've worked hard to develop excellent working relationships with both the national and independent rescues that support our work with rescue spaces, training and grants. Raising the funds needed is never easy, so we are justifiably proud of our amazing supporters, many of whom have been with us from the very beginning. We wouldn't be here without you.
We're also working on our strategic plan for the future so we can continue to grow, refurbish our rescue centre and help even more pets in need.
Such exciting times - here's to the next 15 years!