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Rescue Dogs Have a Ball in New Exercise Paddocks

The city’s stray and abandoned dogs are set to benefit from a series of new exercise paddocks, unveiled today at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

In a special ribbon-cutting ceremony, the rescue centre officially opened four new exercise runs, which have been designed to optimise exercise space for an increasing number of unwanted pets. With nearly 100 stray and abandoned dogs on site at any one time, Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home has seen a growing demand on its green spaces to exercise and train their dogs, in addition to conducting outdoor rehoming visits, which best show off the animals’ potential and personality.

Staff and furry residents of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home were joined at the opening ceremony by representatives of the John and Alice Watson’s Charitable Trust, who generously awarded a grant of £120,000 to make the project possible.

Howard Bridges, CEO at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home said:

“We are immensely grateful to the John and Alice Watson’s Charitable Trust for making possible this vital project to redevelop our exercise paddocks. Before now our main paddock – which our supporters will know well from our annual open day – was one large greenspace. With staff and animal safety being our highest priority, we can often only exercise one dog in a given space at a time, so this meant there were often queues at the door to get in and give the animals a much-needed run around.

“Thanks to this generous donation, we can now exercise and train up to five dogs at one time in this space, meaning that our animals are benefitting from more vital stimulation and breaks from the stresses of kennel life. We can also use these runs as space to meet potential new owners. Meeting in an outdoor space will allow customers to play and interact with a dog, enabling them to see the animal’s full personality and potential.

“What’s more, the additional space will allow us to take on more kennel volunteers to walk the dogs and provide our full-time staff with time to give attention to the animals that are in need of special care or training. All of this will ultimately better prepare them for when they leave us for their new lives in loving forever homes.”

Jane Paterson, Trustee of the John and Alice Watson’s Charitable Trust, said:

“The John and Alice Watson’s Charitable Trust has been delighted to support the excellent work of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home since the Trust’s foundation in 2010. The Home is a charity that was very close to the hearts of our founders, John and his wife Alice, and was specifically mentioned in the Trust Deed.

“The Trustees recently decided to spend out and wind up the Trust to ensure maximum benefit to recipient charities. This gave the Trustees the opportunity to work with the Home and fund this major paddock redevelopment project that we hope will significantly enhance the wellbeing of the Home’s rescue dogs and improve their chances to find a new and loving home through increased space for play and training.

“Throughout the Trust’s association with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, the Trustees have been impressed by the Home’s friendly, dedicated and hard-working staff and volunteers. We, in Edinburgh, are lucky to have this resource that improves the life chances of rescue dogs and cats and helps them find a happy forever home.”

The exercise spaces have been constructed with nervous dogs in mind, with an entrance designed for minimal interaction between animals. The runs themselves can be viewed from the Seafield end of Portobello promenade, allowing the dogs some extra public exposure and socialisation.

In addition to providing much-needed additional exercise space for its rescue pets, the new paddocks will be used by up to 54 dogs who use the Home for holiday boarding. Funds generated from this kennel service go back into helping the rescue centre fund the care of hundreds of stray and unwanted dogs and cats each year.

The John and Alice Watson Trust have previously supported the Home with grants for both staff training and the addition of a sound system in the Home’s kennels, which plays relaxing music and stories to their residents.

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