North Devon Animal Ambulance to close doors

North Devon Animal Ambulance to close doors

The North Devon Animal Ambulance (NDAA), a charity established in 2002, has announced its upcoming closure on August 31.

The charity’s choice to close stemmed from various factors, including the trustees’ advancing age and health issues, as well as increasing veterinary and operational costs.

Known for its comprehensive animal welfare services, NDAA has been instrumental in rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming domestic animals across North Devon. 

Diana Lewis, founding trustee of the charity said she wanted to thank people of North Devon for their many kind words since the closure was announced, but they had made the ‘heart-breaking decision’ to close while the charity could still pay all its bills.

The charity has played a crucial role in providing emergency rescue and first aid services for wildlife all across North Devon, collaborating closely with the RSPCA’s West Hatch wildlife hospital for rehabilitation and eventual release into the wild.

The charity has a strong track record of successfully rehoming a wide range of animals, including dogs, cats, farm animals, small animals, pets, wildlife, exotic pets, horses, and birds. 

In 2003, an overwhelming response to a local media appeal provided funds for their first dedicated animal centre, the Misty Centre in Barnstaple.

In 2009, thanks to the generosity of Market Vets and a legacy from the late Nancy Sawyer, they opened their special care unit (SCU) on Barnstaple’s Pottington Industrial Estate. Market Vets continued their support, expanding the charity’s capacity in 2013.

Diana Lewis, the founding trustee of NDAA, expressed gratitude for the community’s steadfast support while acknowledging the difficult decision to close.

In a statement put out via Facebook, she said: “Thank you all for your kind words, however, I don’t think anything can change now. The world itself has become a different place to the one that we set the charity up in 23 years ago. Now big business rules and fighting is a lost cause, particularly when age and ill health are involved. Trusteeship is so fraught with risk nowadays that nobody wishes to take it on, understandably. We made this heartbreaking decision now whilst we can go out paying every penny we owe in vets bills, lease outstanding, etc etc, knowing that every penny that the North Devon public gave over the years was spent purely on animal welfare, not a penny ever on wages.

“Our team along with people like yourself who have trusted and backed us every step of the way have made life better, and death more peaceful for thousands of creatures over the years. It is that which makes the future bearable for me. Knowing you are all out there and that you will go on doing your bit.

“We can’t change the future, but we can change it for some little creature in need each day, So can you, and that’s what I’m depending on. Thank you again for your kind words. They mean so much.”

Despite efforts by local residents to launch online fundraising campaigns to salvage the charity, NDAA clarified that closure was inevitable. 

Ms Lewis urged supporters not to donate to any external efforts but to continue supporting NDAA directly to assist in the ongoing care and rehoming of animals still in their custody.

Residents of the North Devon community took to Facebook to express their sentiments.

One local shared: “They have worked so very hard over the years but Diana and Mick have earned their retirement. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done.”

Another wrote: “Very sad news, hope Diana gets rewarded for all her incredible work over the years.”

A third said: “A major loss for Barnstaple and surrounding areas. Such tireless work Diana and her team have undertaken for many years. A very sad day for animals in distress all over North Devon.”

Yet another commenter added: “Very sad news, but I would like to thank and applaud all that have contributed over the last 23 years … such terrific work supporting animal welfare.”

Over the years, NDAA’s impact on animal welfare in North Devon has been profound. Beyond rescuing and rehabilitating domestic animals, the charity has provided vital support for farm animals and wildlife in distress. 

Their trained volunteers and dedicated staff have responded to countless emergency calls, ensuring that animals receive prompt medical attention and compassionate care.

As NDAA prepares to conclude its operations, Ms Lewis expressed hope that the community would continue to prioritise animal welfare initiatives.

For those wishing to contribute to NDAA in its final months, donations can be made directly through the charity’s official channels.

North Devon Animal Ambulance to close doors

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