Little Irchester’s Animals in Need rescue centre

Posted 3rd April 2024

Imagine being uprooted from your family and friends, and put in a cage while over the following days, weeks, months and sometimes even years, potential new families overlook you in favour of another.

Being a discarded dog is tough – and it’s left to Annie Marriott to try to pick up the pieces and raise their spirits; just one of her numerous daily jobs as manager at Little Irchester’s Animals in Need rescue centre.

When Annie shuts her front door behind her and heads to work, it’s a short commute – from door to door takes mere moments, because she lives where she works. And work for Annie never really stops.

Her first task of the day is to open the kennels and begin the process of getting the dogs out for a leg stretch and for them to do what they need to!
If they are bewildered by kennel life, it’s thankfully because they’ve not been there long enough to understand the process.

“We give the dogs, and all the animals in our care, the very best we can, but of course being in kennels is never going to match having a loving family, a warm bed and unlimited cuddles.

“It can be harder to be greeted by the quiet, obedient dogs that know the daily drill and are so accepting of the situation they are in – simply because it means that they have been with us for too long,” Annie admitted.

Sadly though, those incidences are becoming ever more frequent – with rehoming down a whopping fifty per cent in 2023.
“…and yet we are receiving more animals than ever before, so it’s clear to see the tide is against us,” Annie said, “We have a waiting list of people wanting to surrender their pets to us, and we just simply don’t have enough space. “Every time we wave an animal off to a new happy home, we could fill the space they leave with several others. It’s tough,” she said.

Is there an average length of stay?

“It’s impossible to say. Not all are with us for a long time – some are gone within seven days, whereas others are literally here for years. I picked eight dogs up from a Welsh pound recently and one was straight out to a foster space the following day, with the family deciding to adopt very soon afterwards. Others from the same group were reserved, which is great, but two have received no interest, which is heartbreaking.

“Another two dogs that have both been with us for two years have just been re-homed, which is brilliant news, but two years in a rescue centre is two years too long.”
We have previously spoken with Annie and her team about the difficulties of finding homes for animals, and while for many people Covid is now just a bad memory, for animal rescue centres like Animals in Need its impact still looms large.

“After the pandemic, so many people who had decided it would be a great thing to get an animal during lockdown no longer wanted them as normality returned, or they realised that they couldn’t leave a young dog at home alone while they were in the office all day – and we became a drop-off point. “Sadly though, these are sentient beings, not toys to be discarded when they are surplus to requirements.

“Of course, we then had to deal with the financial uncertainties faced by many, and the cost of living difficulties continue to see a swell in our numbers. When people are forced to hand over their animals because they simply can’t afford to feed them, it is awful.”

There are other factors to be taken into account, too: “Every rescue centre will tell you that the negative publicity given to some of our larger breeds of dogs, or those wrongly considered to be unduly aggressive, means that our intakes are increasing, and then we have the relentless casualties of the breeding trade, victims of unscrupulous money makers who have no concern for the wellbeing of the animals, only the cash these litters of puppies make. We say it often, but if people chose to adopt and not shop for their new furry friend, we could stamp out this terrible practice and see a dramatic decline in unwanted animals.”

The numbers speak for themselves – at the time of writing Animals in Need had five dogs in foster care, and 67 in its kennels.
Oh, scrap that – an emergency case arrived just as we were signing off this piece; a three-legged female abandoned staffy found in Milton Keynes. The poor girl, now named Maxi, was at risk of being euthanized so AIN had the task of making extra space on site to save her life.

“It just goes to show the struggle we face every day,” Annie said, “Please think carefully before buying from a breeder, or before deciding to open your home up to an animal. Dogs in pounds get killed daily because no one wants them. Why purposely produce more? I call them greeders!
“Never act on a whim, because when things go wrong, facilities like ours are left to fix broken little souls.”

All these doggies want is their forever home “Best friends Honey and Chester are aged six and nine years old, and need to be rehomed together,” Annie said, “They adore each other and can never be separated. Sadly, their owner was forced to hand them over when she lost her home, but they were much-loved fur babies.

“They are an affectionate pair who long to be lap dogs and would make wonderful companions to an active family with teenage children. A pet free home is essential as they are reactive to other animals.

They are pictured with kennel manager Kate Archer who doesn’t come as part of the package. We would be lost without her!”

Contact to state interest.

“Rhys is a beautiful, but very shy four-year-old cross breed boy who came to us from a pound. Look at that little face – he so badly wants to trust, and when those barriers are broken down, he will be magnificent. He is already a little sweetheart.

“He needs a secure, quiet, patient home preferably with another kind and confident dog already established to help Rhys learn that the world is not such a scary place.”


“Sunny, our radiant eight-year-old sweetheart who is the sunshine in everyone’s life here at the rescue centre,” Annie told Pulse, “Her infectious smile, zest for life, and love for hugs, naps, cheese, cuddly toys, and tennis balls make her the pawfect companion.

“Her journey began in a pound, where she arrived underweight with terrible teeth and skin, and fatty lumps hanging from her leg. Small surprise that initially she was shy and withdrawn.

“With time and lots of tender loving care, Sunny has blossomed into the bright, bouncy, and healthy soul you see today.
“She’s a testament to the transformative power of love!

“Now, Sunny seems housebroken and has shown no signs of being destructive in her kennel. With a potential ability to be left alone for up to four hours a day, she doesn’t exhibit separation issues.

“While she can be selective with other dogs, she tolerates calm, non-reactive ones after a careful introduction. Essentially though, she’d prefer to be the only princess in her forever home, where she can be spoiled rotten – and rightfully so!”

If you’re ready to open your heart and home to Sunny, reach out to