HOW IT ALL STARTED
BARRK was established as a registered charity in May 1996. In the beginning there was Dorothy McLeod, Nancy Clarkson and Elizabeth MacKenzie we were all helping out as volunteers at the now closed Grampian Dog Sanctuary, we did not know each other prior to our paths crossing in the course of our volunteering duties. Over a period of time we became firm friends (all of us crazy about dogs), so we got together to form a dog charity that we hoped would serve the needs of dog lovers better.
The three of us and our dog loving husbands (whether they liked it or not) joined forces to set up B.A.R.R.K not an easy task when you have no kennels, no source of income and most importantly no dogs to re-home and also with some of us in full time employment and some with businesses of their own the task seemed immense, however Gordon and myself (Liz MacKenzie), Nancy & Hugh (Clarkson), and the late Dorothy & Hamish (McCloud) founded B.A.R.R.K.
Dorothy and her husband Hamish, both who were retired took on the role of making all the enquiries to find out what was involved in becoming a recognised charity and what legal requirements should be fulfilled and to draft a constitution setting out the aims and objectives of our charity, one of the key items being the priority of dog welfare and also set down in our constitution that no one could receive a salary if they served as a committee member. Over a period of six months we got together frequently to discuss what we thought would be the best way forward, we had to get some income to make B.A.R.R.K. a reality, so the decision was taken to open a charity shop in Banff, establish a source of income and then have money to buy kennels and hey presto! “Dog Charity” It was NOT that easy.
We quickly realised that, first the minute we leased a shop we had to pay rent and secondly we had nothing in it to sell, so we put a huge poster in the shop window explaining who and what we were about, we got some local press coverage and very soon people started to donate, a trickle at first and we thought, what if donations of goods dry up, well to this day we have never had that thought again “the B.A.R.R.K. shop” is a successful well established part of our charity, and that is down to the dedicated and hardworking volunteers who run the shop.
On the volunteer note, at the outset there were only us, the six founder members and it was not going to be possible for us to be doing everything, so another poster campaign for volunteers was launched and soon people (all who were as bonkers about dogs as us) were joining us to promote and run the charity.
Now that we had opened up the shop, thoughts quickly turned to our four legged friends who needed us, we had set aside part of the shop to form an office, we had the phone installed and waited! And waited! After four days we were beginning to get more than a little anxious, but we need not have worried for long, the first call came in on the Thursday morning of that week, a black Labrador (our first dog) “Dixie” by the Saturday we had six dogs looking for a new home. The phone has never stopped ringing.
We quickly realised that simply taking a register of dogs being give up and matching them to new homes was never going to be straightforward, there were so many variable factors, so we identified some foster homes where a dog could be placed until a new home was found, and we soon came to understand that for most people, giving up their dog for adoption was very upsetting, with many complex and distressing situations, and that it was important for B.A.R.R.K. to allay any fears they had about placing their beloved dog into our care.
As word quickly spread we got busier and busier, the shop was doing very well, so it was decided that we could now afford to rent some commercial boarding kennels (as we were a LONG!! Way from having our own), this would allow us to manage the varying needs and amount of dogs we had looking for new homes, we still do not have kennels of our own, but the systems we currently have in place, works well for us.
Of course as the charity developed it was essential that we got the message out that being a responsible dog owner was important, so to that end we decided to set up a neutering programme as part of our education remit. We set about writing to the NCDL, national canine defence league (now The Dogs Trust) the largest and longest established dog rescue in Britain. We were thrilled when none other than Clarissa Baldwin the Chief Executive of NCDL and other Directors came to our little charity office/shop in Banff, we were even more thrilled when they awarded us an annual grant of £5,000 per year, to this day we still operate a very successful neutering programme with funding now coming from various grant giving organisations.