Shropshire Star

Pitbull 'used as bait dog' given fresh start and new home at kennels

A dog lover from Telford was definitely ruffin' it as she undertook a 12-hour kennel lock-in to raise more than £4,000 for pitbull Hope's new home.

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Cheryl with Hope when she first arrived at Hillbrae Rescue Kennels

Certified dog lover, Cheryl Gibson, has followed Hope's journey since the start.

Cheryl was working at Hilbrae Rescue Kennels in Telford when Hope, who was in a very bad condition and is suspected to have been used as a "bait" dog in fights, turned up on their doorstep.

Cheryl said Hope was just skin and bones with scars all over her, and she had never seen a dog in such a poor condition.

Hope was reported as a pitbull, meaning the police came to see her and identified her as a dangerous dog, seizing her with the intention to put her to sleep. She was taken away for the better part of a year to stay at police kennels.

Hope, who will have a new home at Hillbrae Kennels thanks to Cheryl's fundraiser
Jaxen was one of Cheryl's kennel companions during her challenge

However the staff at Hilbrae, including Cheryl, had found Hope to be a happy and friendly dog so they fought for her to stay alive in court and were eventually successful.

But it was decided that Hope, who they think is around five years old, could never be rehomed and had to live at the kennels, in Cold Hatton, forever.

So Cheryl decided to make Hope's new home as comfortable as possible and raise money to build a house away from the hustle and bustle of the main centre.

The 32-year-old from Broseley decided to undergo a 12-hour 'lock-in' in a kennel.

From 12pm to 12am on Saturday, Cheryl was locked up in one of the kennels with three canine companions visiting her throughout the 12 hours, as Hope wasn't allowed to join her due to her anxious nature.

Cheryl with Mary at Hillbrae Kennels
Jaxen was one of Cheryl's kennel companions during her challenge

"Everyone was saying it must be so hard to do that for 12 hours, but I loved it," Cheryl said.

"I had three different rescue dogs visit me throughout the challenge, and it was great to get to know them all – they are all wonderful dogs."

Cheryl's fundraiser has raised more than £4,000 to allow them to build Hope a kennel away from others where it can get a bit noisy and stressful.

Rex was one of Cheryl's kennel mates during her fundraiser

Two years ago Cheryl set up her own dog walking business, Shropshire Canine Enrichment, where people can also sponsor rescue dogs to go for doggy days out in the countryside for a change of scenery.

Cheryl is insured to take dogs like Hope out on a day trip, so she will still be able to get out and about while living permanently at the kennels.

Hope, who will have a new home at Hillbrae Kennels thanks to Cheryl's fundraiser

"The first dog who visited me was Rex, who was only signed over to the kennels that morning," Cheryl explained. "He is a really lovely dog and like a big puppy.

"Then Jaxen came to visit, he is a stray who has come over from Romania. He actually found a home but then was returned, but we made friends quickly, he is lovely.

Hope, who will have a new home at Hillbrae Kennels thanks to Cheryl's fundraiser

"Then I spent the most time with Mary, who is a mastiff type dog and has been at the kennels for six months now. She is so cuddly and really loving. She kept my legs warm as it got colder and darker during the night, she was such an angel, we really bonded. I could have taken her home with me."

Cheryl said she hopes the dogs all find their forever homes soon as they are all lovely. If you’re interested in Mary, Rex or Jaxen call Hilbrae on 01952 541254.

Cheryl with Mary at Hillbrae Kennels

She added that she is so thankful for all the donations which have ensured Hope will have a comfortable home to live in.

"I dread to think what would have happened to Hope if she had ended up somewhere other than Hilbrae," she said. "I have so much respect for them."

Visit to donate to the fundraiser for Hilbrae, which any surplus money from will go towards vet bills for dogs there.