The Alternative Sanctuary started on a very small scale when we took in a few unwanted animals while living in a small semi-detached house in Carpenters Park Watford.
Our first cat was a young female found at the stables where we kept our two horses. No one would take her on, so after feeding her for a while we caught her. The youngest of my three sisters was told to take her into the house and tell my dad how desperately she wanted to keep her. He accepted it pretty well as he did the few hundreds (maybe even into the thousands now) that followed! Suzzie as we named her had to become Suza when the vet discovered that she was a he! He moved houses with us later but always remained quite nervous.
Our first rescued horse we brought for £50 (the knacker price). He had been a blood horse, was only four years old and had been brought by a man for his daughter. When feed prices became terribly expensive (because there was a grain shortage) he was due to be shot. Because so many people could no longer afford to keep their horses - so many were being shot - he was kept waiting for three days for the knacker man. On the third day my mother couldn't stand it any more so she bought him. He had anemia from loosing so much blood so had to be given Guinness and my mother had to go to the stables three times a day to give him small feeds. As he got stronger he became difficult to handle and it was discovered that he had not been properly gelded. One testicle had not descended so he had to have a fairly major operation to sort that out.
Our first rescued dog was Sunday who one of my sisters found while out on a ride. She was an Airdale and totally do-lally. It took hours to catch her. She was partly nervous, partly disobedient and as she got older she became deaf and blind. She gave my sister many embarrassing moments going through people's dustbins and refusing to come. She was named Sunday as we found her on a Sunday! It would take too long to go through all of the histories of the animals we took in but these were really the founding cases. We moved to a bigger house in Garston, Watford and rented two fields. My father put up a put up some make-shift stables in one of the fields (the first of many).
With the house we brought three ponies as the owner was a dealer and threw them in as part of the deal. We have been advised this was not normal practice! One was to be my first pony Ginger who spent most weekends throwing me off and leaving me with concussion, as he was not broken or backed - I was only six years old at the time! My two elder sisters had the others
Warrior was stolen with Connie, my second eldest sisters other pony on her eighteenth birthday. They were never found despite numerous trips to Markets across the country. Years later we discovered that up the road from us was an illegal slaughterhouse where they probably ended up so at least were not transported for miles which was small consolation to one of the worst events in our life. My mother was also talked into buying a rabbit that was being kept in such a small cage that it could not sit up or turn around. He was named Arthur, as he was half a crown. He was to live in a shed with the run of the garden and a friend called Annabel (a male also!) he would attack everyone who tried to catch him except for my four year old brother.
Finally in our new home we discovered that we had inherited a cat, that responded to the name Tinkerbell. The previous owners of the house had a cat called Tinkerbell, when they would call Tinkerbell in, Mog (that seemed more appropriate) tried to come in as well. This usually resulted in the door being swiftly shut in his face. After we moved in he was very happy to find that he was allowed to come in now!
Whenever we took in a new cat, usually as the result of saving them form being put down at the vets. Mog would take them on an adventure to the A405 where the next day they would be found dead (we think he wanted to be an only cat!). He in fact broke his leg when a car hit him on a side road outside our house, this injury has never healed properly and so when he sat on the TV, which he loved it, would hang down over the front! After two years ten cats had been killed (one of my sisters was now a veterinary nurse and so had a constant supply of cats nobody wanted). This carnage became too much to bear so we moved again, this time to the country in Chipperfield into a big bungalow with a huge garden and 300 acre field at the back. We had to keep our, by now, eight horses in livery though. Our hand reared cat named Mole (after the TV character) was killed on the lane just outside the house, after living safely in Garston for six years! He must not have realised it was a road as it was so quiet.
a new property in Pepperstock where we had a small bungalow but our own land which we had always wanted. The animal population was ever growing and here the horses should be safe from theft although this has been less of a problem since there is no money in meat anymore (thank goodness). The cats should have been safe but still in Twenty years four have been killed. It seems nearly impossible to keep them safe unless they are kept in which we don't approve of.
We have acquired an ever growing number of animals, as we have never managed to say the NO word. These cover most species, with horses representing a majority. We also have a varied Selection of; dogs, cats, pigs, goats, a donkey (a real character who made it to fifty years old), terrapins, pigeons, rabbits, guinea-pigs, chinchillas, chipmunks, budgies, cockatiels, gerbils, mice, hamsters, rats, fish, chickens, ducks, a turkey and even a Meer cat found in Dunstable which Whipsenade Zoo agreed to take!
I lived in Pepperstock for over twenty years but always aimed ot find my own property to continue the sanctuary and in 2009 this finally happened although not how i had expected or hoped but as the result if an unbelievable tragedy which you can read about in the ebook which can be downloaded in return for a donation to the sanctuary. Clearly this is not the end of the story and i hope you will wish to follow the sanctuary for years to come but this website should give you a good idea of what the sanctuary is like and be able to show all the supporters how things progress over the years. The sanctuary has rehomed cats and dogs over the years but has always primarily focused on 'taking in animals with nowhere else to go' and for this reason many are not suited for rehoming and so need to stay at the sanctuary for life which is why the emphasis is on it being a homely environment.