Couple's heartache over future of animals at Horsham rescue centre

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A couple who have run an animal rescue centre in Horsham for more than 30 years have spoken of their anguish over the animals’ future.

Cliff and Laura Santini-Bradbury have operated Holbrook Animal Rescue on land in north Horsham for decades but now have to relocate because of construction of the new Mowbray village where 2,750 houses are being built.

The couple have applied to Horsham District Council for planning permission to build a new rescue centre with animal pens and runs, and associated buildings, along with a two-bedroom house, on land off Jackrells Lane in Southwater. But they are fearful for the future of their animals if permission is not granted.

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"We take a lot of old and infirm dogs, sometimes unable to re-home, so they stay as our house dogs,” said Cliff. They deserve to be loved and treated with compassion. Without us they would probably be put to sleep long before their time.

Animals at Holbrook Animal Rescue Centre in Horsham.Animals at Holbrook Animal Rescue Centre in Horsham.
Animals at Holbrook Animal Rescue Centre in Horsham.

“We treat the animals as our own, many are traumatised and just need patience and routine, they all deserve a good life.

“We do not just take the pups and pretty dogs that are easily re-homed. We help any animal, the ones with one eye, only three legs, expensive medication etc ... the ones nobody wants, even if we don’t have space, we make space for them. We will spend time trying to find loving new homes, be it dog, cat, pony or even a hamster.

“If we are forced to close, what would happen to all the current animals we have, many of which are on daily medication, incontinent and/or fragile? Would some have to be put to sleep, simply because of this?

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“Not forgetting all the future animals that no other rescue centres can take, the ones that we will take, they would have no chance of a happy life.”

Cliff and Laura Santini and Laura's mother Sylvia Bradbury at Holbrook Animal Rescue.Cliff and Laura Santini and Laura's mother Sylvia Bradbury at Holbrook Animal Rescue.
Cliff and Laura Santini and Laura's mother Sylvia Bradbury at Holbrook Animal Rescue.

He cites the case of a 13-year-old female terrier, “perfectly healthy in every way except her teeth. After having nine rotten teeth taken out, that were causing her so much pain, and creating a hefty vet’s bill, she needed lots of TLC following this, and now she has found a forever home with a kind and understanding owner. We call this a happy ending, one of many.

“We have been here for the animals for over 30 years and it would be tragic if we are unable to continue.”

They are applying for permission to relocate to a field that they own in Southwater which thy say is currently scrubland. “Our proposal will keep 11 acres of countryside green in an area that is rapidly being taken over with housing developments,” said Cliff.

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In their application to Horsham District Council, Kernon Countryside Consultants, agents for the rescue centre, say in a statement: “This is an opportunity to retain an important local enterprise which, through no fault of theirs, must relocate or be lost.”

Animals are currently brought to Holbrook day and night by the police, councils, RSPCA and members of the public. The centre looks after most types of animal in need of urgent housing and care, and for rehoming. They are mostly dogs and cats but the centre can also accommodate ponies, goats and sheep, domestic poultry, small birds and wildlife.