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First set up back in 1996, Birch Hill Dog Rescue has always offered unwanted, abandoned and neglected dogs the very best of care.
The Rescue Centre is situated in the picturesque village of Neen Sollars, just over 2 miles from Cleobury Mortimer on the south edge of Shropshire. Birch Hill House was built in 1850 on the land which used to be a stone quarry. The “Live and Let Live” pub in the village was built from the stone produced from here.
During the war it was used by evacuees and six families were sent to stay here. The approach to the house is by way of a long drive which originally went through a damson orchard which in itself was unusual. Now in spring the drive is carpeted either side by a blanket of snowdrops.
In 1989 the kennels were built for purely boarding purposes, but over the years things were to change. It was in 1996 that Jutta and Terry Patterson took over Birch Hill and continued to run the boarding kennels, but the Pattersons love of helping unwanted and mistreated dogs was to take over Birch Hill completely.
They slowly began to take in abandoned dogs from here and there and if there was a needy dog wanting refuge, Jutta would always find a space for it. No dog was to be turned away. Before long the amount of rescue dogs coming in overwhelmed the number of dogs coming in for boarding.
Sadly, without any support of volunteers to do any fundraising for them, the Pattersons had to fund the rescue from their own pockets. They received no donations in way of bedding or food for the dogs, and often especially in winter, to keep the dogs warm they would rummage through their own clothes to try and find some items to put in the dogs’ beds. To say that life was harsh would be putting it mildly.
Over time Birch Hill’s reputation for giving the utmost care for the dogs would spread to other rescues. Other rescue charities began to house their dogs at Birch Hill which provided the Pattersons with a little income in order to help their own needy dogs. Even the RSPCA would use the kennels to house ill-treated and badly neglected dogs, such was the level of care and patience that Jutta offered them.
In 2002 Terry Patterson took on the role of Dog Warden for South Shropshire which he held for approximately 4 years. This meant that dogs picked up as strays would go to Birch Hill for 7 days, paid for by the Council until their owners collected them. However, after these 7 days the dogs left would have nowhere to go. Without any grant or support from the council, Jutta would then keep these dogs there too and try to find them new and loving homes. Having a non-destruction policy meant that dogs would stay there, no matter what age until a suitable home could be found for them. As you can imagine these extra dogs would add even more weight to an already heavy financial problem.
Throughout these difficult times, Jutta and Terry would always support the other rescue charities, not just by caring for their dogs but also helping out with fundraising events even though they received none or very little support for their own rescue.
In 2009 Birch Hill saw an increase in the dogs rescued by themselves which took up limited spaces available leaving other rescues to house their own dogs. Birch Hill nowadays concentrates on its own rescue, it has to.
Over the years many a desperate dog has owed its life to Birch Hill Dog Rescue, its very own survival means that many more still have that chance. In 2010 Birch Hill Dog Rescue became a registered charity which opened the doors to many opportunities, we were also able to attract a few more volunteers who were willing to help out with fundraising at various events through the summer. We set up two sponsor schemes for people to join which meant that we received a regular income each month, enabling us to plan ahead with expensive vet bills etc. Later that year we were able to open our very first charity shop.
Your support is a vital part of our existence, every donation no matter how small is much appreciated.
Sadly, in May 2015 Jutta Patterson passed away, a truly amazing and wonderful lady with a selfless passion for saving dogs. Terry, her husband made the decision to carry on with the rescue because that’s what she would have wanted, and although we are still trying to come to terms with her no longer being here we are all pulling together to keep the rescue going and more importantly, Jutta’s legacy.
It wasn’t until she passed away that we found out that Jutta and the rescue had been the victims of an advertising fraud scam in 2011/2012, both Aspire Magazine and the Wyvern Media Group took money from the account fraudulently, a total amount of around £20,000, which was part of a legacy which had been left to us. The stress of all this combined with trying to keep the rescue going had its toll on Jutta which contributed to her death.
In October 2016 10 people from the Wyvern Media Group were sentenced and 6 received custodial sentences, in February 2017 Barbara Stone from Aspire Magazine was sentenced sadly to a suspended sentence, it is highly unlikely that we will see much of the money returned to us.
With all this now behind us Birch Hill Dog Rescue will move on the best way we can. Much needed maintenance is currently underway bit by bit and we are still saving dogs, caring for them, and then finding them their forever homes.
In January 2019, after a few years of poor health, Terry Patterson made the difficult decision to return back to the United States and be with his family. A small band of dedicated people remain to keep the rescue and Jutta’s legacy going. The charity now leases the premises from Terry, and we’re very excited about the changes being made for the future.