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    • 06 Mar, 2023

    Pet Refuge was a lifeline for a single mum in need of surgery

    When Alisa French from Bromley was told she urgently needed complex surgery in September 2022, her main priority wasn’t so much the major procedure required for painful Bilateral Osteoarthritis but rather who would look after her two children who both have special needs – and her beloved 12-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Major.

    Having become increasingly bedridden because of her condition, single mum Alisa, 50, was so desperate to find care for Major that when it appeared increasingly unlikely, she even considered cancelling the surgery she so badly needed altogether. It was only after having made extensive online searches and following an impassioned plea on social media that Alisa found out about our Pet Refuge programme and the situation took a turn for the better.

    ““I was at the end of my tether when I posted my story and the urgent need for help to look after Major whilst I had my operation. I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to. It was at that point that a concerned lady who had read my post on Facebook offered to take Major to Mayhew, an animal welfare charity, that I saw light at the end of the tunnel. It was a moment I will never forget! Without Pet Refuge, I doubt my family and Major would be together today and I would not have been able to have my operation.””

    Alisa French

    Major's Owner

    Following her operation in October and time in respite care, Alisa returned home safe and well in December 2022 – with Major overjoyed to greet her after his time being cared for by us at Mayhew.

    ““Pet Refuge gave me peace of mind whilst I was in hospital and then in post operative respite. Major is my world and a member of the family. When I found out about Mayhew and contacted them about whether they could help, it was like the weight had been lifted! Knowing Major would be safe and well, receiving expert care and support meant I could stop worrying and focus on my wellbeing. I can’t thank Mayhew enough for what they did for us – and for Major – when we most needed help.””

    Alisa French

    Major's Owner

    Pet Refuge – for when owners need care

    Since 2004, we have provided support for pet owners facing an unexpected – and temporary – change in their personal circumstances and who have limited or no means of arranging help to care for their dog or cat. Pet Refuge is a hugely impactful programme that helps keep pets and their families together following an unexpected change or crisis situation like Alisa’s. Through Pet Refuge, much loved pets at risk of having to be relinquished have the best possible care and are placed in a safe and comfortable environment at our home in Kensal Green or alternatively in a temporary foster home with one of our experienced and loving foster carers for up to a maximum of three months.

    ““For many people facing a personal crisis, Pet Refuge can truly alter the course of they and their family’s health and wellbeing. Had Alisa not been able to benefit from our programme, Major may have become yet another dog looking for a new home at a time when we are seeing fewer adopters coming forward. I’m so pleased she found us at a time when she most needed support and that we were able to enable Alisa to receive treatment in hospital assured that her beloved dog Major was being well cared for. Mayhew is delighted to be able to help pets and pet owners in this way, but we urgently need more volunteer foster carers who can provide a temporary loving home for pets just like Major. They can help make it possible for many more dogs and cats and their owners to stay together after a short disruption to their normal family life.” ”

    Sherine Wheeler

    Mayhew Chief Executive

    To find out more about Pet Refuge and to see if you are eligible for the service, please visit

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