Fife Dog Rescue and Rehoming closes: Charity boss denies neglecting animals and blames social media attacks

A Fife dogs charity is being wound up after ten years in operation, with the director blaming social media attacks for the centre’s demise.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 12:19 pm
The image of the dog in a small crate surrounded by faeces has been widely shared.

Claims donations were sold on Dogs Trust takes all 31 animals from closing Fife shelter ‘Freezing building saw dogs’ water turn to ice’

It comes after an online petition to close Fife Dog Rescue and Rehoming (FDRR) gained more than 4000 names, amid claims that the dogs were being neglected, and donations were being used inappropriately.

A photo has been widely shared by campaigners on social media showing a dog in a small crate surrounded by faeces, prompting an online backlash against FDRR and director Monica Connor.

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The kennels which were donated in 2020.

The person who started the petition, who did not wish to be named, had previously worked at the shelter, and wanted to highlight the treatment of the dogs.

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The charity had recently moved to Dunfermline after their Lochgelly premises were said to be so cold and leaky that the dogs’ water bowls froze.

One of the dogs at the Fife Dog Rescue and Rehoming centre

The former volunteer said that the picture of the dog circulated online showed that the crates the dogs were kept in were too small.

"I know that the poo got picked up, but the fact was the crate was small and they don’t have space to go to the toilet.

“The Lochgelly building was bad, there were leaks, it was freezing cold and there was no heating.

“In the morning you’re going in to a frozen water bowl.”

Monica Connor says the new kennels rusted, but the makers say this shows they were not cleaned properly.

New kennels donated ‘then abandoned’

Many dogs were kept in crates despite the fact that local engineering firm Handrails Direct Limited donated 30 custom-made metal kennels just over a year ago. Monica says some of them rusted, but the makers say this showed they hadn’t been cleaned properly.

Some of the kennels were spotted left at the old Lochgelly premises after the move several weeks ago.

Handrails Direct’s Elaine Gillan, who also volunteered at the shelter. She said: “The dogs were in crates, some in larger flimsy kennels where they’d been able to get through.

"They’d put up chicken wire on them and it would catch the dogs’ skin.

“When we initially decided we were going to donate kennels, they were 8 x 4 foot kennels, we donated 20 of them costing just £4000, along with whiteboards to write dogs’ names on and ages and if they’d been walked.

“In the end we donated 30 kennels in total.

"I felt as if the dogs weren’t getting the proper care.”

Banned from cleaning blankets

“People were donating good quality dog bedding and blankets, and she would not allow people to use the washing machine.

"There was one volunteer who took the bedding all away in big bags, washed and dried it and brought it back.

“There was nowhere to hang it up, the place was freezing.

"There was always loads of poo in the kennels and urine, or dogs without water. There was no structure.”

With the closure of the controversial shelter, National charity The Dogs’ Trust has now taken custody of the 31 animals previously in the care of FDRR.

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Speaking to the Fife Free Press, FDRR Director Monica Connor said that a campaign had been orchestrated by some disgruntled former employees and volunteers.

She said: "Obviously there’s a lot of things that we need to take out and sell to pay off anything we’ve still got to pay.

"Once I’ve finished with that I’ll be winding the charity down through my lawyers and OSCR (Scottish charity regulator).

"When we moved in here (Dunfermline), yes the dogs were transported in crates and we were busy assembling the kennels.

"The guys only had enough time to assemble some of them.

“Some dogs were left in a crate overnight when we left at 11pm.”

She said that the picture was taken by a volunteer who had been looking to undermine the shelter.

"She came in early and took this picture of this dog in a crate that had pooed, but that dog had bedding, it had water, it had food, it had everything it’d need. And it’s only one dog’s picture out of 30."

Regarding the time the charity was based at Lochgelly, she said: "I’ve never seen bowls of water frozen.

“Over the winter the weather had damaged the roof, and the roof was leaking and that’s why we moved.

"It was really about getting back at me, nothing to do with the dogs.”

Monica confirmed bedding had been thrown out daily instead of being washed but denied the new donations were sold on.

“The dogs had loads of bedding. The dogs’ kennels get cleaned out every morning and they get clean bedding.

"At Christmas a lot of people handed in brand new bedding and things.

"I didn't want it going into the dogs’ beds, being used once, and then thrown out. So we used that for when people came in to adopt a dog, we always gave them food, new beds and new blankets.”

She said during the winter it was too difficult to dry washed bedding due to the amount making it unfeasible, adding: “A lot of rescues do not wash their bedding.”

Regarding the claims of abandoned kennels, Monica said: “We took the ones that we thought we were going to re-use. The majority of them were rusted, the mesh on the doors was coming off.

"I feel heartbroken, disgusted that social media can destroy a good rescue. You’re seeing people jumping on the bandwagon who don’t even know us.”

Things came to a head on Friday, with a confrontation between protesters and shelter bosses at the new Dunfermline site while Dogs Trust came to take the animals away.

Police confirmed they were in attendance.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Around 3.05pm on Friday, 30 April, police were called to a report of a disturbance at Lyneburn Industrial Estate, Halbeath Place, Dunfermline.

"Officers attended and two women, aged 25 and 57, will be the subject of a report of a report to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with the incident.”

A spokesperson for Dogs Trust said: “We can confirm that we have supported Fife Dog Rescue by taking 31 dogs from the local rescue centre into the care of Dogs Trust.

"As with all our dogs, we will be providing them with the care and support they need to give them every possible opportunity to find loving new homes.”

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