New CEO sees hard times ahead for Church Knowle animal charity

The new CEO of the Margaret Green Animal Rescue Centre at Church Knowle says the charity faces ‘challenging times’ as it gears up for its annual dog show.

The County Dog Show, which takes place on Sunday 7th August 2022, has lots of dog show classes including the ‘waggiest tail’ and the ‘most appealing eyes’, as well as a bird of prey display, refreshments and a tombola.

Margaret Green Animal Rescue Country Dog Show

The popular annual dog show returns to the Church Knowle centre

New to Dorset

Nigel Mason, who has a long career in animal welfare, including with big names like the RSPCA and Blue Cross, took up the reins at the Margaret Green Animal Rescue Centre earlier this year.

He says that factors like the worsening economic situation make fundraising harder but adds that he has ‘seen this before’.

A former Royal Engineer, Nigel has moved around a lot with his job, but this is the first time living and working in Dorset.

The charity’s base at Church Knowle looks after cats, horses, pigs, sheep and more. Its Lincoln Farm rescue centre, between Blandford and Bere Regis, specialises in dogs.

There’s also a centre in Devon that also looks after cats and dogs. The charity, which was founded in 1965, has six shops in the Dorset area including one in Swanage.

Margaret Green Animal Rescue
Margaret Green Animal Rescue

Shops like the one in Swanage make a big contribution to funds but the charity is exploring other revenue streams

“Harder to rehouse animals”

Nigel said:

“We’ve just come out of a very difficult two to three years and the sector has been in transition for five to ten years because we have had a disruption to the way we operate and that is social media. It means people have more ways to buy and sell animals.

“We are finding it harder to rehouse animals and the pandemic escalated that hugely. We are also seeing that the animals we are called on to help are more aged and have veterinary issues.

“The dogs tend to have behavioural issues. The animals we get are the animals people can’t sell. That means we can help fewer because they tend to require more help and rehabilitation.”

Margaret Green Animal Rescue Country Dog Show

The charity is finding it harder to find homes for animals

“Get out to people in the community”

Like other charities, and businesses in general, Margaret Green has also been hit by escalating costs and is looking at different ways of helping.

Nigel said:

“Keeping animals that need help is our core business and we will always do that but we will increasingly try to get out to people in the community and move towards prevention. Providing more support that way will hopefully prevent animals coming into a centre like ours in the first place.”

The charity is also supplying pet food to food banks. But as financial hardship increases, they are expecting to see more animals needing to be looked after at their centres.

So they are looking for new funding avenues like corporate partnerships, as well as increasing the revenue from commercial boarding.

Margaret Green Animal Rescue Country Dog Show

The annual dog show is on Sunday 7th August 2022

“Batten down the hatches and survive”

Nigel said:

“The economic climate looks like it will take us into a relatively difficult time but I’ve seen this before and I’m confident we can batten down the hatches and survive.”

The annual dog show is a major fundraising event and a chance to raise awareness as well.

Nigel said:

“The fact is that our centre is in a rather beautiful location and it’s great for people to come and see it, especially when we are coming out of a time when we have been closed to visitors for two years until early this year.”

Margaret Green Animal Rescue Country Dog Show

The centre at Church Knowle is set in a lovely location

The County Dog Show

The Country Dog Show is at the Church Knowle Centre on Sunday 7th August from 11 am to 4 pm. Entry is £4 for adults and £2.50 for children up to 12, with dog show classes £2 per class.

More details are on its website

The centre is open to the public from 11 am to 3 pm, every day except Wednesday.

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