Ifold vet steps out to help care for police dogs
Two members of staff at a veterinary surgery have been inspired by police dogs they treat to raise money for a new charity that supports ex-working dogs in their retirement.
Senior veterinary surgeon Alyson Harman, from Ifold, and veterinary practice manager Charlotte Bolshaw decided to embark on a fundraising challenge to raise money for the Thin Blue Paw Foundation - a national dog welfare charity that launched in 2020 to support working and retired police dogs.
Alyson, who owns Rowley House Vets in Cranleigh, and Charlie, from Weybridge, were inspired to help the organisation after treating countless Surrey Police dogs over the years, as well as fostering puppies in training from the force’s dog unit, based in Guildford.
Charlie said: “A number of staff at the practice have started puppy fostering and puppy walking for the training team. I currently have a three-month-old springer spaniel, called Martha, who I’ll take care of until she’s 12 months old and ready to go back for the next stage of her training.
“Our head nurse adopted retired police dog, Kiwi, and we all absolutely love her.
“She introduced us to the Thin Blue Paw Foundation and we were amazed by the work that they’re doing to ensure retired police dogs have long and happy retirements.”
The duo tackled steep 2,200m climbs, torrential rain and 50mph winds when they took on the 100km Jurassic Coast Challenge in May walking from Corfe Castle in Wareham to Bridport, Dorset. They’ve raised almost £2,000 for the charity.
Alyson said: “We chose the Jurassic Coast Challenge as it is the most challenging course covering lots of different terrain from roads to pebbly beaches to cliffs.
“The weekend was extra challenging because of the weather. The last 5km covered a steep climb and descent where winds were gusting up to 50mph.”
One retired Surrey Police dog supported by the charity is Fiji, a Belgian Malinois who spent six years working with operational dog handler and owner PC Claire Bird.
During her career Fiji received awards for her abilities and even saved lives.
She was forced to retire early to live out her days with Claire and her family at their home in West Sussex, when she pulled the ligaments in her leg jumping for a toy.
As she got older she started to get really itchy and vets prescribed her with a special injection to be administered every six weeks, costing £140.
As an ex-working dog, Fiji couldn’t be insured so the Thin Blue Paw Foundation agreed to pay for every injection for the rest of her life.
Charlie added: “Police dogs deserve to be looked after following their years of service and we understand that, in some circumstances, they can be difficult to rehome. Ongoing medical conditions, which may have been as a result of their service, can be expensive making rehoming hard.
“It’s amazing that the Thin Blue Paw Foundation is there to help these dogs and their new owners, and to ensure they can live out their lives in comfort.
“We’re already planning our next fundraising adventure, although we might need to give our legs a bit of a rest first!”
Anyone who want to donate to Alyson and Charlie’s fundraiser and help them reach their £2,000 target can still do so: See www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alyson-hardman.