The Dog Hut
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Most of the feral cats and kittens suffer with upper respiratory infections. The nose, mouth and throat is very sensitive and easily infected by a variety of bacteria and viruses. Once infected most deteriorate rapidly, can contract secondary bacterial infections suffer for long periods and eventually may die if not treated.
Contagious upper respiratory problems are prevalent in colonies, shelters, catteries and multi-cat households. These viruses can be transmitted from cat to cat through sneezing, coughing, or while grooming or sharing food and water bowls. Once infected, some cats can become carriers for life, and though they may not show clinical signs, they can still transmit the viruses to others.
Sara painstakingly removed endless amounts of burrs and seeds from each of the puppies.
Just a few of the many seeds removed.
The kitten housing was completed with several hiding places, high walkways and tunnels which the kittens loved!
Photo Credit: Antonio Parrinello/Reuters
Sara Hart was nearly arrested and imprisoned over Sicilian microchipping regulations but was saved by our amazing friends that provided translation services, financial and emotional support, and obtained passports for the puppies in their name - so a very heart felt thank you to Isobell and Andy.
Dean was cheered up with lunch and laughter by Lynda and Tony when he stayed behind on the building site in Sicily. He stayed to look after the animals while Sara went back to the UK to raise more funds, a difficult time as his brother had taken a turn for the worse and they were waiting for bad news - such amazing, caring friends, thank you so much. X
Sicily and beyond!
Early in 2018 Dean and Sara were lucky enough to take sabbatical leave from the Canine Studies College and take 'time out' in Sicily. Having fallen in love with this part of the world it seemed an opportunity not to be missed. Dean was aiming to study and take part in a research project while Sara was aiming to recoup from years of dedicated teaching, continue work on her book and spend time helping local charities through grooming.
Well spent money!
As is often the case things turned a sharp corner. Their savings that were planned to take them through several months of sabbatical leave started dwindling rapidly as they could not ignore the plight of the local animals. Sara and Dean started to feed and treat local colonies prophylactically in Termini Immerse and in and around the Caccamo area. One kitten, covered in ticks and flea infested, was so hungry and desperate that it jumped from the path and hung on to their open car window.
They had their dogs with them in the car so had to leave the tiny kitten behind in the forest only to return with medication soon after to find it had disappeared. They were heart broken, and went back to the same spot several times to no avail. Realising that their money was dwindling fast from the cost of providing food. medicine and fuel, they had no choice but to return to the UK. Cats they were looking after were placed in a temporary care at a cat shelter in Palermo, their fees covered by Dean and Sara and other cats continued to be fed by a local 'Gattini Man'. But before they left Sicily they committed themselves to taking on puppies that were due to be born n the Summer as a local farmer said he was going to drown them! So they had to return later to Sicily as they had given their word.
Their first win!
While they were back in the UK Sara was informed that the bitch had given birth and she had ten puppies! The deal they had made with the Sicilian farmer is that they would take on the puppies if he promised to have his bitch spayed to stop the endless cycle of more puppies and more drowning, amazingly he agreed, So that was it they had to get back to Sicily, they had to keep their word especially if they were going to make any long term change and they were dealing with Sicilians!
The move back to Sicily.
Sara and Dean had previously bought a house in the country, just 10 minutes from Caccamo and 10 minutes from Termini Immerese, so they at least had a base. However it is worth a mention that their house has no doors or windows and had been vandalised, in fact it was just a shell that resident ponies and donkeys were living in. But they decided they could live in the basement with the windows covered in plastic sheeting and water at a premium, so managed to organise installation of a hot water tank, basic eclectic, a sink, toilet and a shower point and were ready to move in!
Even in the few weeks this took to organise, by the time Sara and Dean got back to Sicily 6 of the puppies had died through malnutrition and 1 had been stolen. After making a makeshift run coming out of the their house they organised to collect the remaining puppies who were now 11 weeks old. Not cute little fluffy numbers, but cute large fluffy numbers, at 14 weeks old they were already bigger than Dean and Sara's Maltese cross called Teddy. He was not impressed!
Back to the house!
When they collected the puppies from the farm outhouse the puppies were terrified and literally screaming, The farmer handed Dean three sacks to put the puppies him but Sara and Dean refused, Sara took her time to catch them and then they carried each puppy to their van by hand. Sara travelled the few minutes back to their house with the puppies in the back of van, a journey that seemed to take forever. After just a few days and expert handling by Dean and Sara the puppies were settling in really well, they were starting to respond to training, were off lead in the house grounds and eating their way through everything!
They had been groomed, Sara and Dean painstakingly removing dirt and debris from their matted coats, and were now part of the gang Bobby, Wolfie and Georgie. But additional money was needed to help feed and care for them, their run was rapidly becoming too small, they needed vaccinations and worming in addition to the other cats and kittens Dean and Sara were helping with and pay the costs of the shelter for the weeks they were back in the UK. So Sicily Animal Support was launched.
They couldn't have done it on their own.
Dean built a separate area for the rescued kittens using reclaimed wood from their house and reused nails. He built amazing structures and hideaways for environmental enrichment but it wasn't long before the cats were being integrated successfully with Sara and Dean's own dogs. Not so for the puppies given that Teddy had issues with other dogs and Danny, their other dog was elderly and couldn't manage the onslaught of 'massive puppy' play! So the puppies had to be rehomed. After unsuccessfully trying to find appropriate homes in Sicily the decision was made to bring them back to the UK for homing.
Colette and Trudi at The Kit Wilson Trust offered such amazing help and support and took the puppies in, and by the end of January 2019 all three puppies were living in wonderful family homes in the UK. Dean and Sara are also now the proud owners of two lovely kittens happily living with them in the UK! Sicily Animal Support is now being established as a registered charity and is planning to set up new kennels, a cattery and an education centre in Sicily by the end of 2023 of course the doors and windows in the house need to come first!
While Dean and Sara were planning their return back to the UK there were so grateful that their friends and clients in the UK responded so generously to the Sicily Animal Support funding page and this helped toward kitting out the vehicle and the costly return trip back to the UK.
Sicily is lovely and so is the view, but not as much as the people we have met there that have helped us!
This is the view from what will be the kitchen in Sicily, the base of Sicily Animal Support and it is an amazing and fantastic place.
'But what makes it so special is the amazing people that we have met and had the privilege to spend time with' 'They have supported us, financially, emotionally, spiritually, with odd pieces of furniture, heaters, home cooking, and laughter! So we give a very special thank you to our friends in Sicily - Isobell, Andy, Lynda, Tony, Vicky, Michael, Phyllis, Bob, Franca, Franco, Anne, Doug Jane and of course Diego - thank you to all of you we look forward to being back in Sicily as soon as we can. We miss you all.
Dean and Sara Hart.
Lovely profit, please!
Of course, every animal care business tries to make a profit, if they didn't what would be the point of running the business, you could ask? But what counts for us, is how a business cares for the animals' welfare while making a profit and what a business does with its profit. We always and without compromise consider an animal's welfare before profit, but we do want to make money and operate as efficiently as we can to make as much profit as we can. Why? because all of our profit goes straight toward animal welfare projects both here in the UK and abroad.