Thursday, 23 October 2008

Best laid plans and all that ....

Where do I start? The previous post was at the request of Margo, a concerned Home-a-Dog supporter.
I had received quite a few questions from bloggers as to what to say in the letters to the planners so I decided to phone Demelda at Home-A-Dog to get the full story. But I discovered that the planning issue was just the very top of an enormous iceberg.
To recap: Demelda and her husband sold up and left a profitable dog training business in Cornwall to come to Anne's aid in Wales. Anne had terminal cancer and wanted someone to ensure her excellent small-scale death row rehoming work continued. Demelda sounded perfect and Anne wrote to me to say how delighted she was and how Demelda had made her last days so much happier.
Anne offered free accommodation in exchange for help and in those early days there was also talk of Demelda being able to run her training classes from the premises, too. All should have been good. But no. Somehow the possibility of Demelda training dog on site didn't ever materialise. Demelda was teaching dog training at a local college for an hour of a week, but as she now had no external training business to promote to get any extra income this wasn't nearly enough to pay her living expenses.
When Anne died she left her land to Home-A-Dog. She left her house to a friend who was also a trustee of the charity. Two other friends were also trustees, but not Demelda.
The static caravan that Demelda and her husband had moved into was put in place by Anne just before they arrived - but without seeking proper planning consent.
The planners have ruled that the caravan must go, but that the six kennels can have a temporary reprieve despite local opposition from a faction of people that didn't get on with Anne.
If there is no caravan it would leave Demelda and husband homeless - and as they were looking after Home-A-Dog in exchange for free accommodation, it leaves the whole thing in a complete muddle.
If only Anne had left the house to the charity then Demelda could have lived there while she looked after the dogs - if the trustees allowed it, but the trustee who inherited the house (who already has another house) has already moved in and has no suggestions for what Demelda should do next.
I feel so sorry for Demelda. She was so quick to offer to be the Good Samaritan but her kindness has left her in a terrible mess. She loves the dogs and the work - but how can she go on?
One solution might have been to simply move Home-A-Dog to somewhere else where a caravan would be welcome. But the Home-A-Dog trustees don't want it to move!
Or she could simply walk away and start again doing the same thing but being in charge of her own destiny. That way the dogs are still helped and the essence of what Anne was trying to do is maintained.
From my own experience I know that cancer when it spreads can subtly change the people you know and love - often quite suddenly. My own Dad's personality and priorities changed subtly towards the end when his cancer spread to his brain. I just fear Anne may have left it too late to cross the ts and dot the eyes to make sure her vision was achieved.
Poor Demelda. If she does need to make a fresh start I hope she can rely on all of us to support her and that we will cheer her on if she so decides.
The planners may have brought things to a head, but by the sounds of things the foundations here were not quite right for the long term.


Jan said...

This is a really sad tale. I do so hope that Demelda can find a way of either sorting it out, or starting afresh elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have met Demelda and her O/H they are a lovely couple who's aim in life is to help dogs that would otherwise be PTS following their stay in the pounds. I so hope that this can be resolved for the benefit of the dogs, but most of all Demelda and Colin.

Anonymous said...

I know that on petstreet they have given an address for people to write to the council that are trying to shut this kennel down if you want to write to the man in charge the address is hope it was ok to post this!

Anonymous said...

What a crying shame. I wonder if the trustee who the house was left to is going to run the charity then?

Poor Demelda & hubby :o( I hope they find something else in the same line of work. Selfless people like that are few & far between.

(The email address that has been added by anon does work, it's the same as Beverley added)

Chapstaff said...

The previous post was from me, I couldn't sign in for some reason.
I received an email from Paul Evans, forwarded to him from Aled Sturkey:

Dear etc.
Receipt of your email is acknowledged.

To validate your comments please provide your full postal address.

It came from

So it looks like this is the correct email address.
I'll alter it on D for Dog forum.