Retired Greyhound Trust
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Karen, Alison and Kathleen

volunteers_NE.jpgBetween them they have devoted more than 25 years of work to a charity, raised thousands of pounds and found loving homes for hundreds of retired greyhounds across the North East of England.   

They are a snapshot of what is taking place in 72 branches of the charity nationwide. Karen Fraser, Alison Waggott and Kathleen Armitage represent the backbone of the Retired Greyhound Trust. They are volunteers.

Karen, Alison and Kathleen are fronting a campaign to raise the profile of retired greyhounds as pets, the importance of volunteering and to help secure much-needed funds for the charity.

The three women run individual branches for the Retired Greyhound Trust in North Yorkshire, Durham and Huddersfield and Wakefield homing dogs when they have retired from their racing careers. But, they also work together across the North East and Yorkshire to ensure the very best homes are found for the dogs who need them most.

There are currently more than 60 dogs needing homes across the three branches. So many dogs means a lot of dog walking, grooming, kennel cleaning, feeding and vet visits every single day. 

Alison, who this year homed the Trust's 50,000 retired greyhound, said: "We love greyhounds, that's why we do what we do. It can be difficult when you have so many dogs to look after and full-time work to hold down as well. But retired greyhounds make ideal pets - so there is a huge amount of satisfaction when we home one of our much-loved dogs."

Alison started in the greyhound industry as a trainer at Sunderland Stadium nearly 20 years ago. As the years have passed, Alison's kennels just outside Durham have evolved from housing her racing dogs to homes for more and more retired greyhounds. Five years ago, she was spending so much time working for the Retired Greyhound Trust that she gave up work as a trainer. She now runs a commercial boarding kennels business at Hollins Hall Farm and allows space there for retired greyhounds while they are waiting for homes.

Alison said: "The volunteers of the Retired Greyhound Trust are all very different in the way they work. Some run large kennels, others have a certain amount of spaces for greyhounds to board in general kennels and others have dogs based at their homes.

"Whatever the situation, we all need volunteers to help look after the dogs, raise funds to ensure we can afford to keep them and, ultimately, find them loving homes.

There are currently more than 60 dogs needing homes across the three branches. So many dogs means a lot of dog walking, grooming, kennel cleaning, feeding and vet visits every single day.

"I have a great team of volunteers who help and I don't know what I would do without them," she added.

Karen Fraser, who has been volunteering for the charity for eight years, has retired greyhounds at three kennels across North Yorkshire - Ripon, Malton and North Allerton - as well as working full-time.

She said: "I do wonder how I manage to fit it all in sometimes. It all started off with being asked to put up some posters to promote greyhounds as pets. Now I am running a branch."

Karen and her team of volunteers attend more than 30 events throughout the spring and summer to promote greyhounds as pets in a bid to find new homes for greyhounds in her kennels. And, from September to May, she runs monthly greyhound walks.

"Kath, Alison and I work very closely together to help share the workload, particularly with the heavy schedule of shows that take place throughout the summer. We are not precious about our geographical areas. Our main aim is to find homes for retired greyhounds, wherever that may be," she added.

Retired Kathleen has worked seven days-a-week for seven years for the Retired Greyhound Trust at her kennels near Huddersfield. The 62-year-old looks after eight dogs until they find homes.

Every Sunday at 11am Kathleen opens up the field at her kennels for dog owners to go along and give their dogs a run around. While their dogs are getting some exercise under Kath's watchful eye, the owners then take the homeless greyhounds for walks around the village to get them acclimatised to cars, other people and the hustle and bustle of normal life.

"It is difficult to find good volunteers, but we are always looking for different forms of help. One lady has started coming down on a Monday to help clean out the kennels and feed the dogs, and another comes to help me walk the dogs throughout the week to give me a bit of a break.

"There are all sorts of things that people can get involved in and it is important for us that we get the right people doing the right jobs within our branches - whether it is walking a dog, putting up posters, helping us to raise funds or helping us to man a stand at one of the many shows. Ultimately, the more people who know about greyhounds and how great they are as pets, the more likely we are to find homes for them," she said.