Raid on animal sanctuary that resulted in the deaths of 11 dogs causes wide concern
Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter
A raid on an animal sanctuary that resulted in the deaths of 11 dogs “caused concern in Monmouthshire and beyond” a councillor has acknowledged.
Monmouthshire County Council confirmed in September last year that 11 dogs were killed when it raided the Lost Souls Sanctuary in Rogiet and seized 82 dogs as it executed a warrant on August 15.
At the authority’s January 18 meeting it was also stated efforts at rehoming some of the hounds still in the council’s care have been hit by the ban on American XL Bully dogs that came into force at the end of last year in response to a series of attacks involving the breed.
Conservative councillor for Portskewett Lisa Dymock asked for an update from the council whose animal welfare officers had carried out the raid and seized the dogs.
Supporters of the sanctuary had staged a rally outside County Hall, in Usk, ahead of the council’s October meeting.
Cllr Dymock said: “I’m sure many colleagues have received lots of correspondence on what happened at Lost Souls Sanctuary in August. Some very concerning emails have come through.”
Deputy leader Cllr Paul Griffiths said: “The issue has led to wide concern within the county and indeed beyond. I want to share as much information as I can however council will recognise an ongoing criminal investigation puts limits on the information I can share.”
Working with rescue organisations
He said of the 71 dogs, taken into the council’s care following an order obtained at the magistrates’ court in October, its animal welfare team has been working with rescue organisations to assess their suitability and rehome them.
He said: “The process has been slowed down by the recent ban on the XL Bully breed. Out of the 71 seized 40 have already been sucessfully rehomed and enquiries are still underway on the remaining 31. It’s hoped all remaining dogs will be rehomed in the coming weeks.”
Cllr Dymock said she was “somewhat relieved” the remaining 71 hadn’t been destroyed and asked: “Is it likely the council is bringing prosecution through the courts?”
Cllr Griffiths said he was unable to comment on the legal process while an investigation is ongoing due to “criminal procedure rules and legal due process” and that the council wouldn’t want him to “pre-determine this process”.
The raid caused concern both locally and nationally, and its owner, Annie Lewis, released a statement on Facebook last month explaining her decision to close the sanctuary.
She said: “I started Lost Souls in 2007 in memory of my Border Collie Nikki. Initially we were just Border Collies and German Shepherds, then we took in three Romanian dogs in 2012 when the crisis in Romania was at an all time high.
“The Romanian crisis continued and we took in dogs that could not be rehomed or were in kill shelters.
“In 2017 we took our first Caucasian in. The situation with Caucasian Shepherds was appalling with them being dumped regularly and since I have always been passionate about the breed we opened our doors and decided to concentrate on them as there were very limited options for them.”
“When you run a rescue or a sanctuary it is constantly evolving. You learn by experience. Its a constantly changing process to make things better, constant maintenance and restructuring. You don’t always get it right but you always strive to do so. The times people have said ‘I would love to do what you do’ – they wouldn’t!
“You give up your life, your friends, your family because it is all consuming but you don’t mind because you do it for the love of the dogs. The best feeling in the world is when you get through to a difficult dog and form a bond – there is nothing to beat it!
“I am proud of the fact that the majority of dogs came in with a bite history and could not be easily handled but were able to be handled when they left here.
“I’ve talked it over with Clare, Neil and Poppy and made the decision to officially close Lost Souls Sanctuary from January 1, 2024.
“I’ve dedicated 16 years of my life to LSS and the dogs, worked unbelievably long hours, spent my own money on the best food, best veterinary care, new kennelling and funded the sanctuary apart from the regular donations made by a small number of amazing people – you know who you are – who have supported LSS for years.
“I have no heart for rescue anymore and that decision will not change.Our page will stay up for a while at least as it is full of memories and photos of the dogs. I know I will never see my dogs again and just pray that some are at least genuinely rehomed and loved. I will never stop missing them or loving them.
“The beginning of a New Year seems to be the most appropriate time to make this final decision.
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