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Friday, 23 October 2020

CHARITY TODAY AWARDS

Dog-lover sets up charity to support Sri Lankan street dogs

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AN ANIMAL-lover is improving the lives of injured street dogs in Sri Lanka after setting up a charity. 

Alena Warburton from Bournemouth first visited the country in South Asia in 2019 on her honeymoon but was left devastated at the plight of dogs living on the streets. 

The 34-year-old says one of the most shocking incidents was seeing a waiter brutally kick a heavily pregnant dog at a restaurant.

In a bid to make a difference, when she returned home, she booked a return trip to the country. 

She then spent five weeks volunteering at a dog sanctuary caring for injured dogs. Many there were disabled after being attacked by humans or hit by vehicles.

While volunteering, she noticed many of the dogs brought to the sanctuary had makeshift collars of wire or rope, leaving them with deep wounds.

It was then she decided to start making collars for the dogs, and the idea was born to set up her charity ‘Lucas Helps Dogs’, named after her own rescue dog Lucas.

To date, more than 300 handmade collars have been sent to charities and organisations across the island. 

She also sells collars and leads in the UK with all proceeds going to the sanctuaries. 

Alena told Charity Today:

“The situation with street dogs was so bad. It shocked me seeing dogs everywhere – hurt, malnourished, diseased and hated by the locals. It shattered my heart. 

“I saw dogs with wires, ropes or even barbed wire instead of collars, which left them with horrible deep wounds. It is also very difficult and expensive to buy a proper dog collar in Sri Lanka.

“I wanted to send some collars over and after doing some research found out I could make them myself out of very durable and safe paracord. So, I started to make them donate during my volunteer stay. 

“Some of my friends liked them and asked me to make some for their dogs and donated some money towards the supplies. Then the idea of selling the collars was born. 

“The money raised by selling my collars is either used to purchase supplies to make collars to be donated, or donated to different established charities in Sri Lanka to support them.”

But self-employed bookkeeper Alena does not plan to stop her animal-saving crusade here. 

She hopes in future to start an educational animal welfare program for locals in Sri Lanka. 

She added: “There is a severe lack of animal welfare education, and even if I save one dog, it will be worth it.”

Alena planned to return to the country this year, but due to the pandemic, her flight was cancelled. 

She is now hoping to take an extended trip next year to volunteer and work on her charity. 

While she is there husband Mike will care for their dog Lucas, a blind crossbreed they rescued from Alena’s home country of Czech Republic. 

He was a victim of a puppy mill, and after being diagnosed with cancer two and a half years ago and being given just six months to live, he is very much the inspiration behind the charity. 

Alena added: “He is so resilient and loves living, and despite all his illnesses lives quite a comfortable life. He is my everyday inspiration, and he inspired me to start Lucas Helps Dogs.”

Visit www.lucashelpsdogs.com to order a custom made collar or lead or find out more. 

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