A DORSET charity which trained assistance dogs for disabled people has closed due to a shortage of funds, its trustees said.

A statement on Woofability’s website says “owing to a number of identified issues, the charity is closing with immediate effect.”

Co-founder Andrew Clarke and Peter Olivo, former chairman of the trustees, are no longer associated with the charity, the statement adds.

Trustee Peter Rufus said he was “gutted” the charity had shut down. He and his three fellow trustees were only warned of its financial troubles in December.

“It came to a head on January 23,” he said.

“The start of it was the lack of funds, and we had to make fast decisions.

“The previous year of fundraising was not too good, and things have conspired against us.”

He said “all sorts of things have been coming out of the woodwork” but would not comment further until a report for the Charity Commission is published.

Woofability was criticised for using “old fashioned” training methods by the BBC’s Inside Out programme in 2015.

At the time the charity defended itself against what it called the “biased and unbalanced view” of the programme, which followed a report from multiple sclerosis sufferer Judith Endersby that her dog CJ was not properly trained.

Mr Rufus said the programme “didn’t help” the charity and “hampered fundraising to a certain extent”.

“But other programmes were made which showed Woofability in a better light,” he added.

Woofability had been running since 2010 and trained assistance dogs for disabled adults and children, including those with autism and Down’s syndrome.

It helped partner more than 30 dogs with people from Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Surrey.

The charity’s co-founder, Jenny Clarke, who set up Woofability with husband Andrew, passed away in 2014. She was disabled herself following a work accident more than 20 years previously.

Mr Rufus said it had been “lovely to be involved with a charity of this nature”.

“People have told us it’s changed their life – the potential for looking after and providing a change of lifestyle for disabled and vulnerable people is obviously immense.”

Now the charity has closed, people partnered with dogs will take ownership of them. “They won’t lose their dogs,” Mr Rufus said.

He added: “Those dogs under training have been assessed and some will be re-homed with puppy parents and about eight have been deemed to be suitable to continue training.

“We’re making the arrangements for them to be partnered.

“We’ve had quite a bit of feedback from partners who are also quite gutted,” he continued. “Most are resigned to what’s happened as we can only keep going if funds are coming in.”

According to the charity’s accounts for February 2017, its income was £181,555 and it spent £137,388.