Published: 16:52, 17 February 2021
| Updated: 17:00, 17 February 2021
An animal sanctuary received a surprise £2,000 donation on Valentine’s Day to help cover costly vet bills and continue to care for abandoned pets.
Anim-Mates near New Ash Green was among 278 animal rescue centres across the country to gratefully receive the surprise gift this weekend.
The shelter rescues, cares for and rehomes around 100 stray, abandoned and unwanted animals at its Olivers Farm base.
But like many other charitable organisations its finances have been hit hard by the pandemic.
It was grateful therefore to receive the surprise £2000 donation in recognition of the tireless efforts and hard work of all volunteers since the Covid crisis began.
Anim-Mates volunteer Dennis White said: "It came as a total surprise to us through Support Adoption for Pets, as the charitable arm of Pets At Home.
"They wrote to about 278 animal rescues in the country offering them £2000 each for their funds."
It comes as a welcome relief for the sanctuary, founded by Teresa Bloomfield, which has seen donations dry up in recent months.
Dennis added: "We are all volunteers, nobody gets paid and the volunteers have kept coming to the sanctuary... and that has been the positive part of the Covid lockdown.
"But unfortunately the number of donations we have, which is our only income, has dropped right down."
The long-term volunteer says the money will help go towards costly vet bills.
"The 100 [animals] we have at our sanctuary are elderly or disabled with special needs so we call up vets perhaps more often than other animal rescue centres," he explained.
Throughout the lockdown volunteers have cared for a wide range of animals from domestic cats and dogs to goats, ducks and shetland ponies.
"Unfortunately the number of donations we have, which is our only income, has dropped right down."
The shelter even has a couple of micro pigs they saved as well as some cockerels which had been purchased without the realisation of the early morning wake-up call.
Pets At Home, through their charity Support Adoption for Pets, has supported pet charities since the first lockdown last March.
It has donated £2.75m in grants to rescue centres up and down the country to help them look after the animals in their care and pledged nearly £600,000 as part of its Valentine's Day giveaway.
Other local recipients included Second Chance Animal Rescue in Crockenhill, near Swanley.
Support Adoption For Pets charity manager, Amy Angus, said: “Our message was simple over Valentine’s Day weekend and it’s one that we’re really passionate about as a charity.
"We’re here to share the love and surprising the rescue centres with a donation of £2,000 meant the world to them.
“The impact of Covid-19 is monumental and rescue centres continue to fall under real pressure. We’re reaching out to provide them with much needed financial help and to do our best to ensure that abandoned pets are given a second chance of happiness.
“Not only has the charity surprised rescues with nearly £600,000 but we have also increased our emergency grant programme by £400,00 so rescues can apply for funding during these difficult times.”
Meanwhile Anim-mates is continuing to host online fundraising events and has an upcoming auction it is encouraging people to get involved with.
More details on how to donate or take part is available on their website at anim-mates.org.uk