£30,000 fraud still hitting Shropshire dogs’ home
A Shropshire dogs’ home is still reeling from the effects of being defrauded of almost £30,000 as it battles to stay open, the manager has said.
Birch Hill Dog Rescue, in Neen Sollars, near Cleobury Mortimer, was among those targeted in an international, multi-million pound fraud by Wyvern Media, a company based in Derby.
The dogs’ home has been on the brink of closure in recent months, more than two years after it was defrauded of thousands, as it struggles to meet weekly costs and make urgent repairs. But now a small team of volunteers is working to repair the centre bit by bit, starting with a leaking roof that has drenched some of the dogs when there has been bad weather.
Manager at the dog home, Ellie Kistruck, said: “We’ve had no money to do any work since we were defrauded two years ago.
“We thought we’d have to close the doors over the summer. We manage week by week, we’ve got no money.
“The volunteers do the repair jobs, without them it wouldn’t be done.”
The team comes every Tuesday, from 9am to 3pm, to help in all weather.
“We also have lots of local support from the community,” said Ms Kistruck.
The repair team has been working on the dog home’s roof to keep the pooches dry and warm.
Ellie added: “Recently, the repair team have been fixing the roof as when it rained the dogs were getting wet. We had to buy the materials which cost quite a bit even though we had free labour. We’ve been lucky with the weather recently it hasn’t been too awful.
“Without the volunteers giving their time it couldn’t stay open really. They’ve done one side of the roof and they’ll have to finish the other side in the spring.
“We’ve got about 15 dogs at the moment, whilst the maintenance work is being done we can’t take many in as we need to be able to move them around.
“We take in dogs that other centres wouldn’t, so we’ve got four that can’t be rehomed for one reason or another.”
Four leading figures at Wyvern Media were ordered to hand over a combined £1.3 million from their ill-gotten gains after they defrauded the home which was just one of their victims. The managing director Jonathan Rivers was jailed for six years. Owner, Jutta Patterson, who ran the dogs home with her husband, Terry, died owner of Birch Hill Dog Rescue at Neen Sollars, near Cleobury Mortimer, who passed away from cancer shortly after being conned. Trustees of the dogs’ home said the stress of her ordeal with Wyvern hastened her decline and left the home struggling to keep going.
The Derby-based Wyvern Media cold-called small companies to pressurise them into purchasing advertising space in its publications. But sellers lied to businesses by using false distribution figures, being unclear about what publication they were representing and misleading them into thinking their publications would be promoted at high profile events.
They also used aggressive selling techniques and made unauthorised withdrawals from customers’ bank accounts.
For more information, or to donate, visit birchhilldogrescue.org.uk/