AN appeal has been launched to raise £400,000 for a Dorset animal rescue centre devoted to finding new homes for dogs on “death row”.

When their days are literally numbered, Waggy Tails provides sanctuary for unloved pets after they end up in council pounds across the country.

Charity chairman Shelagh Meredith said: “Dogs are kept in pounds for seven days; sadly most are then put to sleep.

“Figures aren’t published but there are probably more than 100,000 dogs put to sleep across the UK every year. We never, ever put down a healthy animal.”

Waggy Tails finds new homes for up to 300 dogs a year. After purchasing new premises, between Bournemouth and Poole, the charity now plans to transform a detached home into a ‘safe house’ where dogs can be cared for and assessed before being fostered and re-homed.

Dogs live in their own heated cabin at Helen’s House with staff on call round the clock to ensure the animals’ welfare.

Shelagh, a former restaurant owner who now lives in West Moors, said: “We receive five or six calls a day to re-home dogs; local animals are treated as a priority but we also take in dogs from pounds across the country.

“We also step in when their owner can no longer look after them; perhaps they have had to go into hospital or a relationship has broken down and the dog ends up homeless. There are so many scenarios when we have to come to the rescue.”

Shelagh, who has been finding dogs new homes for 17 years, added: “There is always a need for more volunteers to help out with fostering, home checks, grooming, dog walking and DIY.”

The charity relies entirely on donations, legacies and sales at its shops in West Moors and Parkstone.

l To find out more about the charity or become a Friend of Waggy Tails Rescue phone 01202 875000.