A dog lover from Pudsey is celebrating 20 years of volunteering to help homeless hounds at Dogs Trust Leeds. Denice Townson has notched up around 13,000 hours - approximately 540 days - and she and her husband, Roger, have also adopted four dogs from the York Road rehoming centre.
Denice first got involved in the charity after finding a distressed dog in Leeds city centre whilst on her lunch break from work. She remembers, "She was in a terrible state and one of my colleagues already volunteered at the rehoming centre so my first thought was to take her there and that was it, I was hooked!"
From that day, the teacher, who retired in 2010, visits the rehoming centre several times a week to help look after and walk the dogs. Denice says, "To volunteer as well as adopt is fantastic as you’re helping lots of dogs, rather than just one and I’ve particularly built a bond with dogs that sadly have a very long wait for their special someone to fall in love with them. Most of the dogs we’ve adopted have had medical or behavioural issues and could have found themselves waiting quite some time for a home, so it has been wonderful to give them a forever home."
One of the dogs Denice looks after is three-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Desmond, who become homeless after being injured in a road traffic accident. Denice adds, "Desmond is a real character. We go on great walks, and we also have lots of cuddles and I always bring him some sausages which he loves. It would be a dream come true if he was to find his forever home.
"Seeing dogs head off with their new owners is definitely one of the best things about volunteering and thousands have headed home over the years, but it’s particularly wonderful when a dog that has been at the rehoming centre for a long time finds their ideal home."
Volunteers are a vital part at the York Road Rehoming Centre, as Centre Manager Amanda Sands explains, "We look after about 100 dogs every day of the year, all of whom need walking, feeding and lots of TLC so committed volunteers like Denice are vital to helping us make sure they get everything they need whilst they are with us.
"We can’t thank Denice enough for her commitment over the years; she’s incredible. The place wouldn’t be the same without her and we’re hoping she’s with us for many years to come!"
If you would like to find out more about volunteering, please call 0300 303 0292 to discuss opportunities.