We have 10 staff, both full time and part time. We have around 25 volunteers who help on a weekly basis doing various jobs such as reception, DIY, dog walking, cleaning out pens, cat cuddling etc. There are a lot more who do follow up home checks, help at events etc when needed. We couldn’t do all that we do without our volunteers they are amazing.
We have cats, rabbits, ferrets, Guinea Pigs, sheep, pigs and poultry. It is a 5 acre site so plenty of room for everything. Dogs and large farm animals are totally separate. Cats, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs are in the same big building but separate. Poultry have a couple of areas where they can go.
As with any small independent charity fundraising is always hard work. Bigger charities can afford to have a designated fundraiser, volunteers coordinator, events officer, legacy officer etc. We have a small staff of three trying to do it all. The hardest task at the moment is trying to raise core funding to keep the place going while also raising funds for the new kennels. It can be quite stressful juggling several roles and making sure adequate time is given to all.
2013 was Happy Landings 30th anniversary as a charity. We first registered with the Charity Commission on 27th June 1983.
The founder Annabelle Walter raised some initial funds by taking her horse and gypsy wagon and a variety of other animals on two treks. One from Kent to Somerset and back in 1981 where she raised £500. The second in 1982 for a 1000 miles raisng £1000. With her parents help they eventually found and bought Heaven’s Gate at West Henley near Langport, Somerset.
In 1978 a little dog called Buffer inspired Annabelle to start up a rescue centre, he was the worst rescue case she had ever seen. He had been tied on a chain for 14 months, was malnourished and dehydrated, had mange, and other various parasitic problems, he weighed just 11lbs and was dying.
His owner was eventually taken to court but was only fined £25.00 even though he had caused so much suffering.
In Annabelle’s capable hands Buffer made a full recovery although very slow, but his remarkable fighting spirit pioneered a lifetime of animal rescue for Annabelle.
Buffer became famous and appeared in numerous papers and magazines as well as an appearance on Esther Rantzen’s TV show ‘That’s Life’ in May 1987.
Heaven’s Gate was sold to the National Animal Welfare Trust in 1993 and after a brief period at a site near Bridgwater Annabelle brought Hillcroft Farm. It opened its doors as Happy Landings Animal Shelter in May 1995.
Happy Landings Animal Shelter is pleased to unveil plans for our Regeneration Project.
We have planning permission to (over time) knock down all existing animal accommodation and build new ones.
This will take place over three phases, the first being new kennels. Our present kennels are over 30 years old and in desperate need of an improvement. We pride ourselves on the care we give to both rescue & boarding dogs and all the staff are excited about the new facilities matching that standard of care.
The key principle of working at happy landings is to ensure the animals experience is the best possible, which includes ensuring that their mental state is as calm as can be achieved. In the current building this requires high levels of staff supervision which is time consuming. With the new design this will change dramatically freeing our expert staff members up to focus on individual animal care plans. This unique level of care offered to boarders in the local area is part of the reason that Happy Landings is able to generate self sustaining income through a loyal local client base.
Within the new design, there are five bespoke solutions to existing problems in the current kennel block:
- The Isolation Kennels are a space for dogs with an unknown vaccination history. There are four of these kennels planned which will enable us to help more dogs in need – in particular, dogs that would be rejected by other local services. There are many instances of dogs in Somerset having no option of care so this will provide a highly important improvement in local animal rescue provision. The isolation kennels are deliberately designed to be at the quietest part of the site.
- The Grooming and Medical Room is another new addition, which will enable treatment on site, which will both reduce stress for the animals and the costs in staff time currently spent taking the dogs to the vets. It will also enable the creation of an additional Grooming service for boarding dogs that will result in a new revenue stream.
- The Quiet Room will replace the current ‘Quiet Shed!’. Many of our animals become distressed by noise in the main kennel block. Although the new design will reduce noise levels substantially, this space is key for particularly vulnerable animals who need to learn again how to trust and build relationships with their new families. We will be furnishing this space like a model home so that the traumatised animals become used to a welcoming home environment. It will be used for one to one time with animals as well.
- The kitchen and food preparation room is a safe and hygienic area for the food and medication for the dogs. Currently, the equivalent space is difficult to use and requires a lot of cleaning because it was not built for this purpose.
- The bedding, storage and laundry room is now to be incorporated into the building for ease of use, which will again reduce the amount of staff time spent on basic tasks, such as washing bedding and keeping the kennels fresh.
The building will be able to house up to 30 dogs – a combination of rescue of boarding. The rescue kennels are wider than the boarding kennels because often the rescue dogs will be with us for a longer period of time and ensuring the happiness of these animals is our primary charitable objective. The boarding kennels are still significantly larger than the recommended size.
Environmentally sustainable design carefully positioned to make the most use of solar energy and has been designed to have a minimum heat requirement but maximum light.
- Maximising solar gain
- Reducing energy bills
- Reduced water usage
- Utilising natural light to create a pleasant environment for the dogs
- Partition wall ensures no dog has to be in direct sight of another dog, to reduce stress levels
- Covered yards immediately adjacent to indoor kennels will provide freedom of choice for the dogs and reduce the time spent by staff moving them around
- Currently, even on sunny days some of the dogs have limited outdoor time due to a lack of individual outdoor spaces
Aimed at creating a calming and safe environment for the animals, while also reducing the staff time spent cleaning and carrying out tasks that relate to the old building. Staff can spend more time rehabilitating the animals and enriching their experience whilst at the centre creating a stress free environment for animals, many of whom have been through traumatic experiences.
The brand new building is being built on the present exercise paddock, which will enable us to carry on with our existing kennels until the new one is ready.
The walls are up, we are now desperate to "Raise the Roof" and secure enough funding to make it watertight.
Please help by donating to our BARK appeal. http://www.happy-landings.org.uk/help/bark-appeal/