Dog lover gives up Cyprus holiday to look after abandoned animals

]Lesley O'Donoghue

]Lesley O'Donoghue

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You could be forgiven for thinking Lesley O’Donoghue’s barking mad.

For instead of soaking up the sun on the beach at a friend’s wedding in Cyprus, she opted to spend her free time with her hounds of love.

Lesley O'Donoghue at one of the dog rescue centres

Lesley O'Donoghue at one of the dog rescue centres

Dog-mad Lesley sniffed out a job scrubbing kennels on the sun-kissed Mediterranean island when she jetted out with the 40-strong party.

She heard about one or two dog rescue shelters when she got there and just couldn’t let the opportunity go begging.

Lesley, 28, who lives with her partner Ben Cartwright in Euxton, near Chorley, was delighted she’d got her claws into the volunteer work.

“I love my holidays as much as the next person”, said Lesley. “But I was having a chat to the hotel receptionist and we were discussing how much we loved dogs.

Lesley O'Donoghue and her partner Ben Cartwright

Lesley O'Donoghue and her partner Ben Cartwright

“Then she told me about a couple of local dog rescue shelters.

“I work at Dogs Trust and I knew that just like all rescue charities in the UK, they probably rely on volunteers, so I asked if they needed any help, and a couple of days later headed off to help out.”

In soaring temperatures, Lesley spent time at the Argos Animal Sanctuary and Noah’s Ark Dog Shelter, helping settle in dogs that had just been brought to the shelters, socialising the dogs to make sure they were happy to play together and cleaning kennels.

She said: “Abandoned dogs come to the shelters in Cyprus every day and they rely entirely on donations doing an incredible job often in sweltering heat – obviously very different to the weather we have to contend with most of the year in Lancashire.

“It was heart-breaking to see so many dogs needing to find homes, but it was also heart warming to meet people that do everything they can to give the dogs better lives and a great future.”

Later in the year, when Lesley has some time off from her full-time job as deputy manager of Dogs Trust’s newest rehoming centre in Manchester, she will again be using her annual leave to help out more homeless dogs, this time at PAWS Patas, a dog and cat rescue centre in Spain.

“At the wedding venue there was a quote on the wall that said ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ and that just about sums up how I feel about my work,” said Lesley.

“It was fantastic having time to relax with family and friends and it was a wonderful wedding, but being able to share my time looking after the dogs, making sure they had a bit more attention and a few more cuddles than usual, made the trip all the more memorable. Far better than if I’d just spent my time getting a tan.”