Safe haven for unwanted dogs

Pictured is Mandy Heaton and Sarah Knowles at Borneholm Dog Rescue  (w120321-9a)
Pictured is Mandy Heaton and Sarah Knowles at Borneholm Dog Rescue (w120321-9a)

sINCE setting up her own dog rescue Mandy Heaton has been working 16-hour days - but she’s never been happier.

She started Borneholm Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation from her Dinnington home last October with her daughter-in-law Sarah Knowles.

Pictured is Sarah Knowles at Borneholm Dog Rescue with dog Nipper  (w120321-9c)

Pictured is Sarah Knowles at Borneholm Dog Rescue with dog Nipper (w120321-9c)

They rescue dogs from pounds and only have a handful at any one time, keeping them inside the house with Mandy’s own four dogs rather than isolating them in outdoor kennels.

She said: “We want them to get used to being in a home as part of a family and mixing with other dogs and children.”

“When people come to look at the dogs they can’t tell which ones are mine and which are the rescue dogs, and that’s how it should be.”

Mandy, 53, of Church Lane, is a support worker for people with autism and fits her work with the dogs around her job.

That means getting up at 4.15am every day to give the dogs a walk before she heads off to work, and then walking them again at 8pm before bed.

But she said: “I’ve never been busier and I’ve never been happier.”

“The rewards in knowing that we’ve rescued and rehabilitated a dog and then sent it on to a good home are great.” Mandy said a friend once told her that Borneholm meant sanctuary or safe haven, and that is what her home has become for abandoned dogs.

Sarah, 25, who lives in Laughton and keeps an eye on the dogs during the day, said their first rescue dog was a shitzu called Marley whose coat was so matted it was hiding a broken leg.

She said: “When we started grooming him we discovered he only had three legs, the fourth had snapped off and was caught up in all the hair.”

“It was wound round so tightly that the stump had healed over by itself.”

They have taken dogs that no one else would bother with, like a 10-year-old blind Staffie with an eye ulcer. She had to have an eye removed and has since died.

“It’s awful when we lose one,” said Sarah. “We find it really hard, we wouldn’t be doing this job if we didn’t love dogs. We only cover our expenses from adoption, we don’t make any money.”

There are many success stories. Such as Staffie cross Tia who was so timid when they first brought her home that she sat under a chair for four days and wouldn’t let anybody near her.

Earlier this week she became a mum to 10 healthy puppies, which will be available for adoption as soon as they are old enough to leave her.

And Tia herself will be going to a new home too.

Sarah, who has two children and three dogs of her own, said: “We didn’t know she was expecting when we got her. She was severely underweight but as we fed her she kept getting bigger and bigger and we realised she was having puppies.”

“When we first got her she was terrified of men and just wanted to get away from people, but we’ve rehabilitated her and she is fine with men now.”

They have had up to 15 dogs in the house, which is set on half an acre of land, and since they opened they have rehomed 32.

Mandy has done courses in dog rehabilitation and canine psychology and has been a dog owner herself for 30 years.

“It’s awful when you go into a pound and see dogs looking so sad, like there’s nothing for them,” she said. “It’s important for them to be in a home environment and to have company and a routine.”

“We will take dogs even if they are ill and even with Parvo virus, when we isolate them from the other dogs.”

“The only dogs we can’t take are the aggressive ones, we can’t risk them biting the other dogs or biting us.”

The dogs are all vaccinated and neutered and checked over by vets A Crooks and Partner in Rotherham. “They are outstanding, we could do what we do without them,” said Sarah.

Mandy cooks meat and offal in bulk at the weekends to freeze and serve up to the dogs during the week, which she says is cheaper than buying tinned dog food.

Sarah said later this month they will be getting their first Romanian dog, via a Norfolk dog rescue organisation.

Borneholm has its own Facebook page at and will soon be getting its own iPhone app.

For more information on adopting a dog call 07715 208575.