IN the quiet countryside, just a few miles from the town of Antrim, a small patch of land is home to dozens of animals. It is called Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary and has been nestled there for decades. This year, they celebrated their 25th year since gaining charitable status. They said for their silver anniversary: “We looked back on the past 25 years and those who have come and gone in that time. We remembered, we mourned, we learned, but most importantly, we loved. We now look to the future and what comes next; forever hoping for the future and learning from our past. There has always been, and always will be, a home for all animals at Crosskennan. While we do seek to give many of the animals new homes, there are those, like ‘Stan’, who come back to us and. for their own individual reasons. stay with us.”
Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary relies on the generosity of the general public, who keep their gates open and continue to support them to save lives. It’s those who support, who sponsor and volunteer, who save lives; every day giving a future to those animals, which others have given up on. Without regular support, the sanctuary cannot provide the essential care to the current 164 animals they are supporting and housing; both on-site and in foster homes, nor provide rescue to the 176 animals they have taken in this year or find homes for the 197 they have rehomed this year.
Right now, the sanctuary has over 30 cats and kittens, five dogs, and eight horses, ponies and donkeys, all ready to find their new homes.
This year, they have taken in over triple their average for cats and say there are so many more needing help. Before they can help more though, they need to find homes for those they have – currently over 30 of various ages, personalities and needs.
“Many of these kittens came from straying, feral or farm backgrounds; very nervous and often with heavy flea and worm burdens. When they first came in, we were inundated with emails from people wanting to rehome, but no one wanted them when they were nervous. Now they are friendly, people have stopped contacting. Some saying they are too old,” said a Crosskennan volunteer.
Whilst chatting, the volunteer is dealing with several other messages about cats in need: “We are trying to help where we can, but we can only do so much and, while our foster homes and the sanctuary is full, we cannot physically take any more on.”
It’s not just the space constraints that are holding them back though, with time and finances playing a huge part too. “Funds are tight, but they always are, we find a way somehow and we have such amazing support. Even if we have space and the funds though, there is only so much time in a day and it takes time to provide care, especially to nervous cats, who need that one to one time spent on them,” said the volunteer.
In addition, they have five 10-month-old pups, who are looking for very special homes: “These dogs have never lived in a home, they’ve never known anything but being on the streets and scraping for food. They’ve been learning the very basics with us.”
One of the volunteers, who has been working with the dogs since their arrival, says, while the labrador-sized pup has a sniff around my boots: “They aren’t confident dogs, this is all very new to them. They need homes with someone who has the time and patience to give them a chance at a future.”
The sanctuary says the dogs are learning well and their confidence is increasing, some faster than others: “One of the pups is currently in a foster home and her confidence and training is surpassing all those still in kennels. We hope to find her a home very soon, so that the foster place can hopefully help with some of the more nervous ones left behind. They are all going to make wonderful pets, very loyal and loving, active and playful, but they need time and they need the basics and a home is the best place for them to learn those things.”
The sanctuary will continue to aid any potential home with training; their aim is to find the best homes for the dogs now and allow the dogs to develop bonds with their new owners and learn together.
Of the eight equines seeking homes, all are special cases and many would be happy being well loved pets and pampered in a home. Unfortunately, the bulk of people applying want riding ponies and they want competition horses.
“There is a reason though why animals end up with us, not many people are abandoning fit and healthy ponies, when they can sell them. Those who come to us, come to us because they are old or injured and, while we do what we can, many will never be fit for more than being a loving companion,” said the volunteer.
All equines currently seeking homes are advertised on the sanctuary’s website: “All those seeking homes at present have special requirements and, even those who are ridden, are only fit for very light work. People do need to be aware of that when they apply.”
The sanctuary also welcomes people who can offer grazing space and longer-term foster for some of the equines, and ask people to get in touch if they can offer some space and some time for a rescued equine.
Crosskennan is encouraging the public to participate in their fundraising events this Christmas period to raise funds for the sanctuary. They are hosting a small but busy open day on December 4 from 12 noon until 2pm, complete with dog show, pony grooming, demonstrations by professionals, Mrs Claus kids’ corner, and more! The event, they hope, will help raise funds towards the increased bills in winter, including bedding and feed.
The sanctuary will also be participating in a bag pack at Tesco Extra in Glengormley on December 11.
The sanctuary’s annual Christmas ballot is on sale now and tickets can be bought directly on their website or can be ordered by email. The ballot aims to supplement some of the increased costs associated with winter and has 10 brilliant prizes up for grabs, donated by friends and supporters of the sanctuary.
Keep up to date with Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary by visiting https:// www.crosskennan lane.co.uk