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Helping Animals & Their Carers [04/04/2005]

"Helping animals and their carers since 1886 TM " is the motto of The Mayhew Animal Home and on Hampstead Heath recently it was put into action with great effect.

Robert Stuhldreer, one of The Mayhew Animal Home's Welfare Officers, was enjoying a relaxing walk on the Heath with his own dogs on his day off when a unexpected emergency occurred.

Robert spotted an elderly lady lying on the ground some feet away with her dog by her side. This lady, called Mary, and a local Hampstead resident, had fallen over, breaking her leg in two places and was in considerable pain and distress.

Fortunately for Mary, Robert is also a qualified Registered General Nurse. He immediately called for an ambulance on his mobile and managed to keep Mary reassured while waiting for it to arrive. Despite being in severe pain, Mary was very concerned about what would happen to her dog, Petra, when she was taken to hospital, as there was no one to take care of the dog at home.

Luckily, The Mayhew could help out here too. Robert explained to her that The Mayhew has a scheme – "Pet Refuge" - offering emergency and temporary foster care for animals whose owners are in crisis.

After Mary was taken to hospital in the ambulance, Robert took Petra into The Mayhew. Petra is a lovely dog and quite elderly herself, being 14 years old, but she soon settled in at The Mayhew, where she was given a thorough health check by the veterinary team. Petra's requirements were then matched with one of the foster carers and after a few days at The Mayhew, she was placed in a comfortable home environment.

Mary is slowly recovering from her injuries, but it may be some time until she is back to full health again. The Mayhew will continue to care for Petra until Mary has completely recovered and is able to have her back.


The Mayhew has always helped animals in cases of emergency and temporary need. They have a network of contacts with the local authorities and social services that contact them in such cases where an animal is involved and needs assistance. Such animals previously went to the Mayhew and boarded with them until they could return to their original owners. This, of course, reduced the number of places they had available for stray and homeless animals brought into the Home so they decided to set up a fostering scheme for those animals in need of temporary care and accommodation. They christened the programme "Pet Refuge."

The aim of "Pet Refuge" is to give temporary accommodation to pets, whose guardians cannot look after them for a period of time. Previously, without such schemes in place, it would often mean that an animal was put to sleep simply because the original owner was unable to care for it and there was no other alternative available. The reasons why people might require temporary assistance with the care of their pets are many and varied and may be, for example, because of eviction, illness, hospitalisation or domestic violence.

Once the animals are registered on the scheme, the Mayhew can match them with a suitable foster carer outside the Home. The period of time the animals can remain on foster is unlimited, but they keep in regular contact with the original owners while the animals are in care. While on foster the Mayhew supports the carers with food, medicines, advice and any other expenses they may have.

For more information about this service visit The Mayhew Animal Home

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