'No-kill' animal shelter forced to explain why they put two healthy dogs to sleep at Blackpool site

An ex-chairperson at Easterleigh animal sanctuary has spoken out after the new bosses admitted to putting down two dogs with no health issues.

The two Jack Russells had been with the shelter since 2016, and were unsuitable for rehoming as they had a bite history.

But Mel Shaw, who stepped down from her role in 2020, said it’s no reason to kill the dogs, as they had previously agreed that they would be in the shelter’s care for life.

She said: “It’s supposed to be a sanctuary for life, and a no-kill shelter. We often did get dogs with a bite history. It’s the nature of the beast. We’d all agreed years ago that we’d keep [Jack and Marty] for life, as we decided they couldn’t be rehomed. The two dogs had bonded together and were happy.”

Jack and Marty were long term residents at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary

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Jack and Marty had been staying at the Moorsfield Farm site, and the trustees had concerns that the two dogs could get loose and bite someone during a visit.

A statement on the official Easterleigh facebook page said they had made several failed attempts to rehome the ‘unpredictable’ dogs.

Mel had previously adopted a number of dogs through the charity and was a trustee before taking over as chair in 2017.

She stepped down in 2020 but remained in contact with some of the animal welfare staff.

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She said: “They knew I would have taken [Jack and Marty]. That’s what really hurt me.”

Mel had been sent regular updates about Jack and Marty from staff who said they were ‘living their best life’ and ‘making great progress’.

“They commented on Facebook saying that the dogs were interacted with on a daily basis, runs on the beaches and fells.”

But on 28 July she found out the dogs had been put to sleep on 27th June 2022 – a month earlier.

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Mel took over from founder, Mandy Leigh, when she died of lung cancer in September 2017.

She added: “I’m speaking out for Jack and Marty, and because people have the right to know. They are not being transparent with the public. People support them as a no-kill shelter and they have contravened the confidence that people had in it.”

But a statement from Easterleigh said that the two dogs regularly bit staff members who cared for them.

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And they had a ‘poor quality of life’ that led to the decision to put them to sleep.

Claire Smith, the current chair of Easterleigh, wrote: “No member of staff should be subject to being bitten at work on a regular basis.

“Unfortunately, even though our animal welfare staff contacted many potential adopter organisations none were willing to take either Jack or Marty. As it had been previously agreed that it was not in the best interest for the dogs to spend the rest of their lives in kennel facilities with a poor quality of life, the decision to have them put to sleep was agreed.

“Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary has always abided by having a no kill policy, unless it was on veterinary advice, or it was deemed to be in the best interest of the animal concerned. It was agreed to be in the best interest for Jack and Marty by the majority of trustees and staff present at the meeting in May 2022.”