A retired teacher is marking 20 years of looking after needy dogs in Leeds.
Denise Townson, from Pudsey, has been a volunteer with Dogs Trust Leeds since 1997.
In that time, she has notched up around 13,000 hours of helping to care for homeless hounds - the equivalent of a year and a half. She and her husband have even adopted four pets themselves from the York Road re-homing centre.
Denise first became involved with the charity after finding an abandoned stray in the city centre while on her lunch break.
“She was in a terrible state and one of my colleagues already volunteered at the re-homing centre so my first thought was to take her there and that was it, I was hooked!”
After retiring from Notre Dame Sixth Form College in 2010, Denise was able to increase her time spent volunteering.
“To volunteer as well as adopt is fantastic as you’re helping lots of dogs, rather than just one and I’ve particularly built a bond with dogs that sadly have a very long wait for their special someone to fall in love with them. Most of the dogs we’ve adopted have had medical or behavioural issues and could have found themselves waiting quite some time for a home, so it has been wonderful to give them a forever home.”
One of the dogs Denice looks after is three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Desmond, who found himself without a home after being injured in a road accident.
“Desmond is a real character. We go on great walks, and we also have lots of cuddles and I always bring him some sausages which he loves. It would be a dream come true if he was to find his forever home.
“Seeing dogs head off with their new owners is definitely one of the best things about volunteering and thousands have headed home over the years, but it’s particularly wonderful when a dog that has been at the centre for a long time finds their ideal home.”
Around 100 dogs are resident in the centre, and volunteers help to walk and feed them.