Breed rescue work

The otterhound has become one of the UK's vulnerable native dog breeds, under threat of extinction. With fewer than 50 puppy registrations a year, this ancient breed, having existed since the 11th century, is now at risk of dying out. Luckily though, one more can now be added to their numbers after Otterhound Club Rescue helped to save a individual otterhound which was otherwise destined to die in France.

Helen Hacking, from the Wirral in the north-west of England, is the rescue co-ordinator for Otterhound Club Rescue, a Kennel Club breed rescue organisation. In this role, she helps potential owners to appreciate the lifestyle requirements of this energetic breed, so as to ensure they live harmoniously together. Another of her tasks is to help otterhounds that have lost their homes for any number of reasons.

Support in France

As soon as Helen heard about Dede, an otterhound on 'death row' in a dog pound in France, Helen knew that she had to rescue him. “With so few of this wonderful breed in the UK, it is appalling that a member of this breed outside of the UK risks being put down for not having a home,” explains Helen. “Dede was lucky - it was only because of a few extraordinary people that he is alive and well in a loving home today.”

It was the actions of a French woman called Annie Gratreau, who lives near the pound that started the rescue process. Annie volunteered to walk Dede, realised that he was special and alerted Evelyn Gorrill, an Englishwoman living in France who runs a website for rehoming abandoned dogs there.

Alison and Billy Gale, friends of Helen's who live in France, were alerted to Dede's plight and went to see him at the pound, before calling Helen to tell her his story. Helen learned that Dede had been found wandering in the snow on the west coast of France.

He didn't have a microchip, a tattoo, or even a mark where a collar had been. The pound realised he must be a purebred dog, but didn't know what breed and it was for this reason that he was kept longer than normal, while investigations were carried out.
Helen explains: “Dede was depressed and starved. He was a candidate for euthanasia, and therefore, he hadn't been given any vaccinations. I knew I had a good home for him here in the UK with experienced otterhound owners, who had recently lost their beloved hound.

The paperwork battle is finally won!

“It was all very complicated, and we were warned that the pound might not release him if he was to leave the country. Therefore, Alison and Billy put their names forward to adopt him, and travelled three hours each way to take him to their home.

Barney after being rescued from the dog pound“On arrival, Dede made himself at home, as you can see in this photo, and instantly bonded with their hounds and cats, eating all the food they had left in their bowls, but there wasn't even a growl or spat between them. The next day they took him to their vet, where he was given all the necessary vaccinations, flea control etc., and the pet passport process was begun.

This paperwork should have taken three weeks, but there was a hiccup and it took a month. All of these expenses were generously paid by Alison and Billy.”
Dede then travelled from France to England with the help of retired English lorry driver, David Marker. David transports dogs anywhere when they need rehoming, and only charges his fuel. He even sleeps in the back of his estate car with them to save expenses.

Safely in his new home

Since he arrived in the UK, Dede has been rehomed with new owners who fell in love with him immediately and has been renamed Barney. He has now put on weight and is living in a loving home, having settled in really well.

Helen continued: “I am in touch with his new owners regularly and they are absolutely overjoyed with Barney, who is really at home with them, and looks so happy on the photos they send me. It had all been quite a task to organise. There were many long phone calls to and from France and also some worrying moments, wondering if all would go well and we would get the poor fellow here, but it has all been worthwhile.

“Apart from making so many people happy, this episode has put me in touch with outstanding people who have all put themselves out for Barney and dug deep into their pockets for him.”

Did you know?

Kennel Club Breed Rescue supports thousands of breed rescue organisations in the UK, which are run largely by volunteers who are passionate about their breeds. Specialist breed rescue clubs, such as Otterhound Club Rescue, exist to help a particular breed and owners of that breed. Although they specialise in one breed, they can offer the knowledge, experience and ability to look after every dog correctly.

* You can find more information about Kennel Club Breed Rescue by clicking on this link, and a list of breed rescue contacts can be found here.