Catherine of Catherine’s Puppies needs volunteers to walk her 23 dogs. Her new shelter — it’s just four months old — is in a leafy location a hundred yards down from the catchment road high in the Ho Chung valley. It’s an attractive location for volunteers to walk the dogs, particularly teenagers off school.
Catherine Lumsden used to be a director with Sai Kung Stray Friends but parted company early this year to start her own operation. For $8000 a month she’s renting two buildings totaling about 1200 sq ft in a fenced compound. It’s ideal for dogs and she’s tried to make it like a home for them. They are not kept in cages but run around together. “There are always people here. We have barbeques. Sometimes I sleep over.”
Catherine’s Puppies has 23 dogs at present with a further six out at foster homes. Many are Sai Kung pedigrees of varying age and there is even a Tibetan Mastiff, found in shocking condition. The dogs have all been abandoned, rescued by volunteers, or handed in.
On the weekends Catherine can be seen outside Starbucks with puppies and a donation box. She says many people are eager donors and she and her volunteers collect about $2000 each weekend. Money to keep the shelter going is in dire need: Food costs about $5000 a month and veterinary bills can be $10,000 – 20,000. Catherine said Dr Mike Muir of Pet Central gives her shelter massive discounts on its bills. “They are a lifeline.”
She runs a small trap-neuter-release programme. Volunteers go out in the bush locating packs of feral dogs, trapping them, arranging desexing and after recovery taking the animals back and freeing them. Locals and visitors feed these feral packs, which no longer breed.
Catherine says her husband of six years, Andy, chief technical officer for an internet cabling operation, is long suffering. “He gives me cash and doesn’t ask where it goes.” She has no staff, just volunteers.
Often litters of six or more puppies are left at the shelter. Cuddly little ones are easily homed. “But there is always one left over. I fear I will end up with a shelter full of adult dogs that can’t be homed. This is not what we are trying to do.”
If you’d like to be a volunteer helping out at the shelter or walking the dogs, firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate see Catherine and her volunteers outside Starbucks on the weekend or pay into Catherine’s Puppies account at Pet Central.