Win a luxury bouquet this Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air this week, and what better way than to get in the compassionate spirit than by helping dogs in need?! We’re delighted to say that we’ve teamed up with our wonderful friends at Wild at Heart to offer our supporters an incredible opportunity to spread the love even further this Valentine’s Day. Simply donate £10 or more via our website and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a truly stunning Valentine’s bouquet:

  1. Visit
  2. Donate £10 or more
  3. That’s it!

It really is that simple – one lucky donor will be picked at random on Thursday morning, and contacted to arrange delivery of a stunning hand-tied bouquet. The only question is: will you give it to someone you love, or keep it for yourself?! Whatever you choose, you can enjoy a warm glow this Valentine’s Day knowing that your love for dogs has helped save the life of a stray overseas – and there really is no love more powerful than that.

  • Offer applicable to all website donations between now and 05:00 GMT on Thursday morning (13/02/20)
  • Please note, international donors may partake but delivery of the bouquet must be made to a UK address
  • The winner will be contacted first thing on Thursday morning in order to ensure Valentine’s delivery, so be sure to keep an eye on your emails!

Christmas with a heart: our ethical 2019 Christmas gift guide

Whilst a quick browse on Instagram shows you that there are more brands than ever vying for your precious festive pound, we wanted to draw your attention to a selection of gifts with a heart of gold. All of the items featured in our 2019 ethical Christmas gift guide donate some or all of their profits to Wild at Heart Foundation, allowing us to continue our international mission, rescuing stray dogs from overseas.

From stocking fillers to all-out decadence (for the goodest girls and boys!), there’s something for every budget and taste. Please consider supporting a brand whose commitment to giving back sits at the core of what they do.

1. Wild at Heart Foundation mug – £14 (or £50 for a set of 4)

100% of profits donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

It’s no surprise that the very first item on our list is from our very own shop! We have an excellent range of T-shirts, sweatshirts and kids clothing that’s perfect for the Christmas season, but we felt our newest addition to the WAHF collection deserved a special mention.

Available in four styles, each designed by our incredible artist friend Simeon Farrar, these porcelain mugs fit snugly in your hand, and are amply big enough for a proper cup of whatever mulled beverage most takes your fancy this Christmas.

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2. Hoop n Loop embroidered cushion cover – £85

£5 from every sale donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

As if your dog didn’t spend enough time on the sofa already, there’s now away to crown their place as “ruler of the couch” that also gives back to dogs in need. These stunning, utterly bespoke creations from our friends at Hoop n Loop feature a beautiful hand-embroidered portrait of your pet at the heart of a sumptuous velvet cushion in the colour of your choice.

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3. Death By Tea ‘Dog-Lover’s’ pin badge – £7

£2 from every sale donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

After adopting Irma, a Cyprus stray from Wild at Heart Foundation, wonderful adopter Holly (@deathbytea) was inspired to create a range of adorable pin badges. Not only do these pins look good, they also do good! They also make the perfect stocking filler for dog-lovers of all ages.

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4. Butternut Box subscription – price tailored to you

75% off for our supporters, £20 donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

Because, as for as we’re concerned, Christmas is ALL about the dogs! Treat your beloved furry companion to the a delicious treat this Christmas and they’ll thank you later. Butternut Box food is freshly cooked using human-grade ingredients and is known to convert even the fussiest eaters to “lick-the-bowl-clean” foodies.

Why not take out a trial subscription and enjoy 75% off for you, and 2 weeks worth of food for your dog? What’s more, you can feel warm and fuzzy in the knowledge that by doing so – whether you remain a Butternutter or not (and if your dog has their way, you will!) – you’ll have donated £20 to help dogs in need.

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5. Astley Clarke flower and jewellery gift set – £180

10% donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

Created just in time for Christmas, this stunning gift set is the perfect treat for that special someone in your life. In collaboration with our founder Nikki’s floristry company, Wild At Heart, Astley Clarke present a bouquet inspired by the signature Gold Cosmos Kula Bracelet. And if that’s not enough, 10% from every sale are donated back to the Foundation, ensuring that this stunning gifting combination not only looks good, it does good too.

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6. Noah Fay ‘Wild at Heart Bracelet’ – £10

£4 from every sale donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

If your budget is a little more modest this Christmas, you can still treat your loved-ones to a beautiful piece of hand-crafted jewellery that gives back to dogs in need. Noah Fay created this gorgeous bracelet for the Foundation in its early days of founding, and we’ve been grateful for her support ever since.

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6. Bird + Wolf ‘Wild at Heart’ jacket – £195

10% donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

The statement piece for 2019 packs heart as well as fashion, with 1o% from their ‘Wild at Heart’ studded camo jacket going to support our dog rescue efforts. Stylish and compassionate – our favourite!

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7. Wunderdog magazine subscription – £22 for a year

Our friends at Wunderdog have been incredible supporters of the charity from Day One of the magazine’s inception – so much so that our very own Nikki Tibbles (and the GORGEOUS Peggy from Romania!) featured on the first ever front cover. Not only is this magazine a gorgeous, must-have staple for any stylish coffee table, it also highlights the work of a whole host of wonderful individuals and organisations around the world who are working towards giving dogs (especially rescue dogs!) a better life.

Treat a loved one to an annual subscription of this beautiful creation and we know they’ll thank you for it as soon as that first un-put-downable issue lands on their doormat.

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8. Sophie Lis ‘Love’ pendant – £250 / £325

10% donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t’aime davantage, Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain. This pendant is inspired by an extract taken from the poem “The Eternal Song” by 19thcentury French poet Rosemonde Gerard; and it’s certainly got love at it’s heart. 10% of sales from both the gold and diamond editions of the beautiful gift are donated to help stray dogs in need.

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9. Adalise silver dog earrings – £39

£5 from every sale donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

For those that want to wear their love of dogs for all to see, these adorable sterling silver drop earrings are the perfect way to show your appreciation. Handmade with love in the UK and beautifully gift-wrapped, they’ll make the perfect present this Christmas.

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10. Anabela Chan ‘puppy ring’ – from £960

25% donated to Wild at Heart Foundation

Whilst we know that these would likely be the ultimate splurge this Christmas (is there someone in your life who’s been really really good?!), we can’t get over the incredible support shown to us by Anabela Chan. These iconic rings are not only the ultimate in style and luxury, they also sport a generous soul: each and every puppy or kitten ring sold sees a huge donation of 25% made to the Foundation.

For each and every person who invests in a piece of jewellery that both last a lifetime and change a life, we are so very grateful!

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If you’d like to collaborate with us in 2020 by donating a portion of your sales to our international dog rescue mission, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us an email to let us know a little more about who you are and what you do, and we’ll be in touch soon.

Meet the team: Hannah

We first met Hannah in early 2019 when she came on board to help plan and manage our annual arts fundraiser, One Night Only. We knew within minutes that Hannah was a perfect fit for Wild at Heart Foundation, and her flair for event planning were proven by the incredible success of One Night Only ’19 – our biggest and most successful fundraising event to date, raising over £25,000 in profit, all of which was donated to our international project work.

The only thing that remained for us to do was to persuade her to join us full time – a task made all the easier by Hannah’s love for all things dog! We’re proud to call Hannah a member of the WAHF family, and look forward to seeing her transform our events calendar with fun, creative opportunities for even more of our supporters, all with the mission of raising more vital funds for rescue dogs overseas.

To welcome Hannah on board, we’ve asked her to share a little more about who she is and what she does:

What made you decide to pursue a career in dog rescue?

I joined the team in February 2019 to help with Wild at Heart Foundation’s One Night Only event, which completely opened my eyes to the global stray dog issue and cruelty taking place all over the world. All of the work WAHF are doing towards changing and ultimately ending this is incredible and I’m proud to be part of this mission.

What does your “day job” mainly comprise of?

As you can imagine, being part of a small team can create a lot of variety in my day-to-day! I’m responsible for organising events for the charity – from small popups to large-scale fundraisers and everything in between. I plan from concept stage to the small details & promotion. So my day could include working on strategy & logistics to a much more hands-on approach such as installing and being at the event & social media. I also collaborate with our incredible partners with events and creating merchandise.

What’s your favourite part of working for Wild at Heart Foundation?

I love working in a team who share the same passions. This is also the same for our brand partners, adopters & raising awareness at our events – to keep building our community. It’s amazing working together towards the same goal.

Where in the world has your job taken you, and where would you like to go next?

I was fortunate enough to go to Puerto Rico for our 6th mass-sterilisation clinic in May 2019, where I saw first hand how hard everyone works and collaborates to sterilise over 3500 animals in just 6 days! It was amazing to be there to support and see the positive impact this has for both the dogs and people on the island.

I would love to go to Bulgaria, where my own gorgeous Wild at Heart Foundation dog, Suki is from.

If you were given £100,000 to spend on one rescue project, where/what would you most want to support?

Egypt – there are so many stray dogs and cruelty. I would want to put it towards building a well designed refuge & re-homing shelter and implementing an education program.

Who was the first dog in your life?

Oscar – he’s now 15, has no teeth and super grumpy – I love him exactly how he is.

Who is your current four-legged partner in crime?

Suki joined our family in October this year, she came over from the incredible Street Hearts shelter in Bulgaria. She’s still finding her feet in London life, but every day I can’t believe how far she has come, it’s fascinating to watch her confidence grow day-by-day. She has utterly transformed our home and our lives.

Where in the world is your absolute favourite dog walking spot?

Battersea Park – we’re so lucky to live right next to the park, where Suki has already been making friends. I used to live by the beach, which Suki hasn’t yet experienced but I can’t wait to introduce her to the coast soon.

What’s your best / most obscure “doggy fact”?

Dog’s whiskers help them see in the dark. Also, dogs can smell your feelings 🙂

And finally, what’s the one thing that the Wild at Heart Foundation community should know about you?!

I love photography, especially film and still use my dad’s camera from the RAF, which he passed to me when I was 15. I also love anything sweet and to bake in my spare time – I actually got to the 3rd round of Great British Bake Off but didn’t make the final 12!

Nikki Tibbles: the force behind the charity

Wild at Heart Foundation is both brain-child, passion project and raison d’etre for Nikki Tibbles. In just a few short years, this woman has transformed her personal passion into something that has now become a professional, meaningful, and truly life-changing venture. The charity’s work now stretches across all four corners of the globe, with thousands of  rescue dogs adopted into loving, happy homes, tens of thousands more sterilised (preventing the unwanted birth of literally millions of puppies), and resource, educational and financial support provided to many local communities and projects around the world to help them solve the mounting stray dog problems in their area.

There’s not many people who could launch such a dynamic project, all whilst running an award-winning, world-renowned floristry business at the same time. But for those of you that have met Nikki and have seen her passion, drive and unstoppable determination to make the world a better place, then it’ll come as no surprise to learn just how much she has poured her heart and soul into making Wild at Heart Foundation a success.

Barry Karacostas (aka The Dog Jogger) took the time to chat with Nikki about the early days of the Foundation, and what inspired her to make it the charity it is today:

“The iconic florist and my good friend Nikki Tibbles chats to me about her rescue dog charity Wild at Heart Foundation. Nikki is a formidable force to be reckoned with in the animal welfare community and I am super excited to share her story.”

How did Wild at Heart Foundation begin?

I had already been helping a shelter in Southern Spain rehoming their dogs to my friends and family and recently started working with an amazing girl called Anca in Romania, rehoming her dogs that she had found outside. Anca had found a litter of puppies that were abandoned and I was looking to rehome them.

I’d spent years rescuing dogs from overseas on a personal level, often bringing dogs back with me after trips to Europe and finding them the perfect homes amongst friends and clients, and I wanted to find a way to turn this passion into something more permanent, something wider reaching. Wild at Heart Foundation had been a seed growing in my mind for many many years – in 2015, it was wonderful to finally see it blossom into the charity I had always dreamed of.

Most charities are driven by a clear sense of vision – what is Wild at Heart Foundations vision?

From the start, I knew that I didn’t want to have a charity that was just another woman trying to rescue and rehome a few dogs and do a bit of good. It’s a much bigger vision, it’s global. There are around 600 million stray dogs in this world and that is a very estimated figure. Ideally what we would like to do is raise awareness of this and to stop the mass inhumane culling of stray dogs all over the world and to stop these unwanted dogs ever being born. Therefore, the biggest vision of the Foundation is global spaying/neutering clinics and education, and education that comes from within like our project with Animals Asia in Hong Kong and China. If we can educate children to be kind and compassionate and know how to treat animals, then that stems us for good stead for the future.

I’m sure you have lots of success stories to share, but which one stands out the most for you?

There are so many! But one that stands out is about a good friend of ours called Lily who adopted Jeffrey into her family of two young children. They have since gone on to adopt another dog through the Foundation, the gorgeous Dolly, they pretty much look identical. Both are spotty, very fluffy Poodle type breeds that after being rescued from Cyprus have fitted in so well. The children are very much involved, they walk them to school, read to them and have even started writing stories about them. It’s just so wonderful how much joy they can bring to our lives and change them for the better.

Teddy before and after

What are your plans and hopes for the future?

The Foundation has grand plans in the making, and our hopes for the future include something permanent in Puerto Rico, we are looking at either building a shelter or working with an existing shelter. Continuous spay and neutering clinics and also a mobile spaying and neutering van. We also want to raise significant amounts of money and raise awareness, it’s been incredible this year, with the Adopt Don’t Shop campaign with articles in The Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Woman and Home.

We have lots of plans for the future and look to expand our projects all over the world. We are now working in Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Swaziland, Romania, Cyprus, Bosnia, Greece, Lesvos, Puerto Rico and Borneo.

Nikki leading the Recovery Team at Wild at Heart Foundation’s sterilisation clinic, Puerto Rico

Many charities closely associated, collaborate well together. Do you find this happens with animal rescue charities or could more be done in working together for the greater good of animals?

I think animal charities could certainly learn from working together for the greater good of animals. Charities, like Battersea Dogs and Cats home, which is such a well-known brand and have such a powerful voice, could use that for the plight of a dog worldwide and to encourage to spay, neuter and adopt. I would love to see a lot more collaborations between the larger charities and the smaller ones, to help them grow and achieve their goals.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have met some of the amazing four legged characters you have personally adopted.I know since then there have been a few more additions to your pack – how did they steal your heart.

Oh my God! I have my six gorgeous dogs who I love more than anything in the world.

The two most recent are, my little Rita. At 10 days old she was dumped on a highway in Puerto Rico and was handed to me on the day I arrived there, and she literally slept round my neck for 10 days while I was there, so of course I had to bring her home. The second newest addition is Ruby who looks very much like my two Ridgeback crosses from Battersea, Reuben and Mazie who are unfortunately no longer with us. She was in a cage so small that she couldn’t even stand up in, all the way at the back of the shelter and she had also been deemed not rehomable. I put my hand on her cage and she put her paw on my hand, so she was taken out of the cage and obviously had to come home with me. Of course I have to mention my Big Len who was thrown down a well at six months old, Tia who was caught in a trap and had to gnaw her own tail off, little Ronnie (or should I say big Ronnie!), and last but not least Smith who was locked in a cage for three years with a broken jaw.

Essentially, I tend to take dogs that no one else wants, I don’t really care what they are, what they look like or how badly behaved they might be. I believe that with love, time, patience, security and routine they will always be incredible in their own way.

Anyone having met you would agree your energy and tenacity in helping as many unfortunate dogs that populate our world is unprecedented. We have chatted about the importance of educating the younger generation and what a difference it could make for the future. Can you share any of the educational projects that Wild At Heart Foundation is working on?

Education obviously is key for all areas of our world. It’s about the way we eat, the way we live, the way we waste. The state of our world for me is just not sustainable in any shape or form and the only way to make a difference, in all areas and long term, is through education. We need to educate children to be kind and compassionate, to be aware of what has happened to that animal to get a piece of meat on our plate. To not be wasteful to be respectful.

If people are educated they have a choice of how to behave. But without education, how can they be mindful to the decisions they are making? If they don’t know that a pig has been kept in the most horrific circumstances or a dog tortured to within an inch of its life before being killed for food in China, then change will not happen. I think we should all be armed with knowledge so that we can then decide how to act, so that means working with the younger generation who can really help change this world.

Finally, what advice would you give someone who is looking to adopt a dog?

Saving a life has to be one of the most incredible things we can do. When we say we are adopting a rescue dog, we are saving that dog’s life and that dog saves our life too. I think we need to work hard to make people aware that adopted dogs are not damaged, this is what most people feel, but they are not. They are the most extraordinary creatures.

Also, with that, is something that I know you, Barry, are strongly working on: people should make sure they are buying a dog that suites their life style and family and that is really important. Also making people aware that one in three dogs purchased are coming from puppy mills, which is another big story we are trying to get out there.

If you are going to buy then make sure you do so responsibly, meet the dog’s parents, see where it has been born and brought up and see the litter. It is so important you do your research to make sure that breed of dog is right for you and you have the time and experience needed to take care of that dog. So many dogs, especially after Christmas, are gifted or abandoned at the gates of the RSPCA or Battersea purely because it has been an impulse buy of a designer breed. But for me saving a life is the most important thing we can do.

– interview by Barry Karacostas, The Dog Jogger

Grappling with the situation in Greece: our team visit Lesvos

In 2019, the Wild at Heart Foundation adoption team were delighted to pay another visit to one of our very first partner shelter, the incredible venture set up by an individual rescuer on the island of Lesvos. This is one of our longest standing and best loved overseas shelter partnerships. Meghan shares an insight into the visit.

We began working with in Vassilia and her shelter in 2015 to help control the ever-increasing street dog population and we are pleased to have successfully rehomed 86 dogs to date, with the number growing rapidly!

On this latest occasion, Olivia and Meghan were fortunate enough to visit Vassilia’s shelter in Lesvos. Not only was it incredible to meet the gorgeous pups we had heard so much about and were working hard to find homes for, but it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Vassilia who solely runs the shelter day in day out, all year round.

Vassilia pours her heart, soul and every day of her life into caring and rehabilitating dogs, ensuring that these dogs experience the love and safety they truly deserve. Her doors are always open, and the dogs are given the chance to play and socialise in a far more stress-free environment than public and overcrowded shelters. Vassilia is the reason that so many dogs in Lesvos have a second chance at life.

We were first greeted by the adorable quad of pups termed the little women; Amy, Beth, Jojo and Meg, along with Xena and Lola. Soon after we returned from this trip to Lesvos, every single one of these dogs was swiftly adopted as we had so many amazing things to report about them! In another area of the shelter we met Silke, Velvet, Nero, Pimento, Pepper and Darcy who have also now been adopted into loving homes.

Sadly, Lizzie and Mormo are two of the longest residents of the shelters:

Lizzie was rescued along with her litter of puppies nearly two years ago now. All of Lizzie’s puppies have been adopted and she has been a surrogate mother to many other litters, including my own dog, Caramel, and her siblings. She has seen many a dog be rescued and rehomed yet Lizzie still longs for her own quiet home, free of puppy duties, where she will be spoiled and loved just like all the other dogs that have left the shelter before her.

Mormo was saved from near death after being found roaming a village in Lesvos and being accused of harassing the locals. Mormo is a very excitable and intelligent dog, she loves performing tricks and catching treats, chasing after her ball and being fussed over.

After many well used years, we witnessed first-hand the state of disrepair Vassilia’s shelter now finds itself in. In order to continue providing safe refuge for these dogs, the shelter desperately needs rebuilding to allow for more enclosures so that Vassilia can rescue more dogs, as well as build a new, sterile quarantine area to help prevent the spread of disease that sadly many puppies are subject to before receiving their vaccinations, something that struck the island extremely hard last year.

Once the inevitable belly rubbing and face licking from the shelter dog’s was done, Olivia and myself got stuck in helping Vassilia with the daily tasks and soon realised how difficult the extent of the operation was to run the shelter as an individual and in the current state the shelter was in.

Vassilia continues to work tirelessly for the sake of providing a better life for her dogs. Her house is taken over by puppies to ensure they aren’t at risk of catching anything before being vaccinated. For most people this would be the dream but when you can’t take a day away from the shelter, this is a lot to cope with.

Vassilia relies on a small and close group of foster carers around the island in order to keep saving as many dogs as possible. Along with the feeding, cleaning and running various medical trips daily, she also attempts to improve the shelter through minor repair works where she can. But this is not enough.

Wild at Heart Foundation are proud to now be supporting the rebuild of the Lesvos shelter along with the kind donations and help from Matthew Lauder, another resident and keen supporter of the Foundation who lives on the island of Lesvos, and his wonderful event ‘Reigning Cats and Dogs’.

Matthew approached the Foundation about holding an art exhibition to help raise funds for a rebuild. Many years ago, Matthew found his dog, Nellie, in a desperate state, abandoned and chained to a tree, living in her own excrement. Matthew called every shelter around the island for help but it wasn’t until he found Vassilia and she immediately offered to help.

We have a lot to thank Matthew for; his ties to the island and finding Vassilia meant that we were able to forge an amazing and successful relationship, consistently helping save hundreds of dogs from a life of misery. We look forward to the future of this relationship and helping visit and rebuild the shelter within the coming months!

Find out more         Donate towards our shelter rebuild          Adopt from Greece

Inside our Puerto Rico sterilisation clinic

Back in 2017, Wild at Heart Foundation visited Puerto Rico with one clear goal in mind: to combat the rising numbers of dogs born onto the streets. With over 500,000 strays estimated to be living on the island, this is no small mission, especially when you consider that just one litter of strays born today will result in an average of 67,000 more unwanted dogs born over the course of just six years.

Having witnessed the problem ourselves, it became clear that the only way to make any kind of lasting impact was via high volume sterilisation. In March 2018 we joined forces with with ViDAS  to hold our first mass-sterilisation programme on the island. In spite of terrible conditions, very little local marketing opportunities, and even rolling power cuts, we successfully sterilised over 1,000 animals in just six days! Furthermore, offering free sterilisation and vaccination services have served to help the people of Puerto Rico keep their pets safe and prevent unwanted litters.

Fast-forward a few years, and we’re proud of the work we’re achieving in Puerto Rico. Having attracted large-scale funding and operational support from HSUS, we’re now able to combine forces to run tri-annual clinics across the island, as well as supporting a number of smaller local clinics throughout the year. The scale and atmosphere of these clinics is often hard to convey; with thousands of dogs and their owners passing through a stadium-turned-surgery each day, the energy and activity we experience is utterly incomparable.

So let us invite you behind the scenes of our Spayathon clinics to share a day in the life of Wild at Heart Foundation in Puerto Rico…

The wait begins!

At every clinic, the line begins to form long before dawn, testament to the dedication of thousands of locals who are committed to playing their part in controlling the island’s escalating stray dog problem in a humane and responsible way. Despite queueing for hours, we’re always incredibly grateful to see people embracing the opportunity with such patience and appreciation, and it’s an honour to support communities in this way.

Step One: Registration

From pets and “community dogs” (the local term for dogs that take up permanent residence in a neighbourhood), to strays and street dogs, every animal who passes through the clinic begins with registration. Starting from 6am, over 500 animals each day are weighed, tagged and registered.

Step Two: Pre-Medical
Once registered, dogs wait to receive their pre-medical check up. Here, a qualified vet gives a thorough examination to ensure each animal is healthy and fit for surgery, before preparing them for sedation. At this point, owners or human chaperones hand over their dog to the surgical team.

Step Three: Surgery
A team of around 20 highly-skilled surgeons specialising in high-volume sterilisation use specially-designed, sterile mobile equipment to spay or neuter each dog that arrives on their table. Each operation is remarkably swift, with a surgeon averaging some 25 animals a day!

Step Four: Recovery
Next, the dog is transported to Recovery where Nikki and her team of volunteers monitor their progress as they come round from anaesthetic. Vaccinations, including rabies jabs, are administered, and all dogs are treated against worms, ticks, fleas and lice. They also can expect to have their nails clipped and ears cleaned.

Ready for home!
Once the dog has made a full recovery and has been cuddled back to a stable state, owners and chaperones leave with detailed aftercare information & support. We are so grateful to the thousands of people who attend our clinics, all of whom play an active role in compassionately managing the problem on their doorsteps.

Beyond the Spayathon

We are incredibly proud of the work we achieve during the short but intense period of the Spayathon clinic; but our work does not end there. Whilst mass-sterilisation is the most effective and compassionate means of tackling the stray problem on the island, it’s too late to save the lives of those who have already been born, dumped and neglected.

Urgent Care
Wild at Heart Foundation believe in dog; in every single dog who needs us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the instances of extreme neglect, abuse and sickness that we witness whilst on the island. That’s why we’re committed to providing urgent care to dogs like Legend and Bella, funding their medical treatment and ensuring they are nursed back to health.

Shelters across Puerto Rico are full to bursting; due to extreme overcrowding they are forced to operate a 99% kill rate, with dogs being euthanised within 48 hours of arrival. We are passionate about building a network of local fosters for the dogs we rescue, as well as a longer-term campaign to build a humane, safe and spacious shelter on the island.

Giving a stray dog a second chance at happiness is one of the most rewarding aspects of everything we do at Wild at Heart Foundation, and Puerto Rico is no exception. Thanks to our foster network on the island and links with humane shelters in the US, we have funded and facilitated the adoption of hundreds of rescued dogs and puppies.

Your role in Spayathon

We refuse to ignore the suffering of even a single dog on the island, but we need your help to give them the treatment, care and love that they so desperately need. It takes a team of vets, experts and volunteers to keep our Spayathon clinics running. But it takes the support of thousands to make it possible.

We are reliant on the generosity of our donors to keep our clinics running. Whether you can spare £1, £10 or £100, we’re so grateful for whatever you’re able to donate.

Please, give what you can.

A message from Nikki

“It is always with a huge mix of emotions that I return to Puerto Rico: heartbreak in the face of so many animals’ suffering; a level of trepidation at the scale of the problem; joy to be reunited with the amazing community of volunteers, fosters and animal lovers on the island who give me hope for the future; and, determination to keep fighting, to make a difference.

It may be the dogs that keeps me coming back to the island.. but its the support of our donors and followers that keeps me going once I’m there. Our team works tirelessly … 18 hour days, gruelling physical work, gut-wrenching reminders of the effect that poverty, miseducation and neglect has on the island’s canine population … but your compassion is our fuel!

I am so so very grateful to everyone who engages in an issue that is taking place so far from most of our homes .. if you would consider donating what you can, your contribution will play an active role in stopping the escalating stray problem in its tracks..

Slowly but surely, we are making a difference.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the dogs of Puerto Rico, thank you.”

Nikki Tibbles, Wild at Heart Foundation Founder

Community matters: sterilising community dogs in Puerto Rico

This November, our team returned to Puerto Rico once again to commence our sixth high-volume sterilisation clinic to date. Sterilising over 3,000 animals in just six days was an incredible achievement, and we’re so proud as always to play a role in what has now become such a vast and record-breaking operation – we’ve come a long way from those early days when we first established a makeshift clinic, that’s for sure!

But it’s not a Wild at Heart project trip unless we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to know the locals! And when we came across a family of “community dogs” living in our neighbourhood, and met the people who are caring for them, we knew we had to help. Community dogs is the term given to stray dogs who live on a particular patch / area. They’re known (and often well-loved!) by locals, and are usually fed by residents and business owners in the area.

Compared to the vast majority of dogs around the world who suffer a life of cruelty and starvation on the streets, we must remind ourselves of the relative good fortune of community dogs. Whilst we may wish to see them all tucked up in a warm bed under a safe roof, it’s thanks to the kindness and generosity of the people they cohabit with in their neighbourhood that they’re able to survive and experience a level of human kindness and love that is sadly a luxury on the streets.

Take the man in the neighbourhood we stayed in who looks out for a family of loveable overgrown pups; they’ve been relying on his generosity since they were tiny. Now over a year old, they’re well-fed, playful, and enjoying a quality of life on the street that few are lucky enough to know. That’s thanks to his compassion.

To help support these local efforts, we wanted to provide a service that they would otherwise be unable to offer these community dogs: we took the opportunity to sterilise and vaccinate them, ensuring that no more puppies are born into the pack (which means fewer mouths to feed!) and giving the dogs they’ve grown to love a better chance at living a happy, healthy life.

Waking up before dawn a few days into the clinic in order to allow time to catch the dogs without causing them undue stress, we headed down to the area where they sleep. Their community have helped show them that humans can be trusted so they came trotting up to greet us with wagging tails, and – after a few minutes of tentative caution – were more than happy to be stroked and fussed.

The best way to a dog’s heart is through it’s stomach, so we spent time feeding them a tasty breakfast before easing them into slip leads – easier said than done! Whilst they’re not fearful of basic human interaction, these dogs have grown up on the streets, alert to danger. As soon as they feel an alien sensation round their neck, most stray dogs inevitably start to panic, so we were sure to remain calm, soothing and relaxed, allowing them plenty of time to read the situation and eventually trust us enough to coax them into the car.

From here, we were able to take them to be treated on the island – something that we’re only able to do thanks to the generosity of our donors who support funding efforts to care for strays both in and out of our clinic. Once they’d been operated on, vaccinated, and treated against fleas, ticks and worms, they were ready to go home.

It’s always a good feeling to give a street dog the kind of treatment usually only reserved for owned dogs, but one of the most heart warming part of the experience was taking them back to their “patch”, and seeing their excitement as they realised they were home. Still a little groggy from their surgery, they perked up as soon as they realised where they were and it was wagging tails and happy dances all round!

You can read more about “Trap, Neuter, Release” method of sterilisation here.

We’ve visited the family every day since to donate food (and get our daily dose of cuddles!) and we were delighted to meet with the man who showed them how to trust. As a business owner on the backstreet where they’ve settled, he sees them every day and takes a vested interest in their health and their future. We were honoured to be able to give something small back to this community patch, but the survival of dogs like these is thanks to the day-to-day kindness of strangers.

There are hundreds of people here in Puerto Rico who give freely, even when they may not have a lot themselves, to help the strays in their area. From caring individuals to organisations large and small, this island of dog-lovers need our help. Not because they don’t have the will. Not because they don’t have the knowledge. But simply because they have been dealt a problem too great to manage alone.

Wild at Heart Foundation believe whole-heartedly in collaboration, and supporting local efforts wherever and however we can. We’re proud to be working alongside our incredible operations partners in Puerto Rico (Vidas, The Puerto Rico Dog Fund, and Humane Society US) to offer a free service that would otherwise be unavailable to local dog owners. We’re humbled to be a part of a huge movement towards lasting change. But most of all, we’re in awe of the people who share their knowledge and allow us to support their incredible rescue efforts.

We cannot help local rescue efforts without public funding – it is only thanks to your donations that we have been able to find homes for hundreds of Puerto Rican strays to date. Your generosity will allow us to support the dog-loving community here still further; please, give what you can.

Meet the team: Sami

Sami joined the Wild at Heart Foundation family in 2019 with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the dog rescue sector. Having worked on rescue projects around the world, she’s built an amazing understanding of street dog behaviour, and has a wonderful way with dogs of all shapes and sizes. She brings all this experience to her role, and our adopters love hearing from Sami once their Wild at Heart dog has arrived.

Sami is our primary aftercare point of contact and likes nothing more than checking in on all new (and even not-so-new!) arrivals to see how they’re getting on. She’s always there to lend an ear and offer advice when our community needs it, and we’re lucky to have her on board.

To welcome Sami to the team, we asked her to share a little more about who she is and what she does!

What made you decide to pursue a career in dog rescue?

I have always been obsessed with dogs; as a child, I would beg my mum to go to friends houses that specifically had dogs in them! I’ve been lucky enough to live in South Africa for three years recently, and it was there that I discovered my passion for dog rescue work. I got involved in a few organisations out there and each role varied massively. I worked in the adoptions department for one animal rescue group, took part in a few mass sterilisation drives in a few of the townships around Cape Town, and I even dabbled in a bit of fostering!

What does your “day job” mainly comprise of?

My role is divided into two aspects: I work in the adoptions department, handling the dog adoptions from Bahrain, Lebanon, Thailand, Portugal and in the UK; and I also look after the aftercare service for our adopters and provide advice and behavioural support for them throughout their adoption journey.

I also help out on the projects side of the organisation so organising and planning project trips and researching programmes around the world that we can next get involved with.

On a day to day basis, this means that I’ve always got a healthy and varied to-do list which might include: calling new adopters, catching up with any adopters who might need more dedicated aftercare, carrying out homechecks and speaking to prospective adopters, matchmaking adopters with their perfect dogs, liaising with our network of behaviourists, and organising upcoming project trips.

What’s your favourite part of working for Wild at Heart Foundation?

I love getting stuck into research for new projects we can get involved in. There are so many inspiring organisations around the world that could use our support in order to make a greater impact on the lives of dogs in their country. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to support projects that I feel passionate about.

Where in the world has your job taken you, and where would you like to go next?

I have visited Lebanon and Puerto Rico so far. I would love to explore projects in Southeast Asia that specifically work towards spay and neuter campaigns. Animals in many of these countries hold very little value in society and so if we can reduce the number of stray dogs on the streets we can reduce and eventually eradicate acts of cruelty that many dogs are suffering from.

Coaxing a scared street dog in Puerto Rico into a slip lead so we could catch and sterilise him and his siblings, before returning them to their favourite spot!

If you were given £100,000 to spend on one rescue project, where/what would you most want to support?

I would like to fund more sterilisation drives across South Africa, an ongoing project focus for Wild at Heart. There are over 200,000 stray dogs in South Africa, most of which live in condensed low income settlement areas where people can’t afford to feed themselves let alone feed animals. The dogs there are surviving predominantly on human waste.

Illegal pitbull breeding and fighting is also rife in these areas as they generate money for poorer communities and act as status symbols. The more dogs we sterilise there, the less of a chance there is of dogs being stolen for breeding or bait, dogs being bred to exhaustion and then thrown away once they have had their use and an increase in stray populations.

Who was the first dog in your life?

Rocky is my first dog. He is 3 and a half years of age and I got him when he was two months old. He was found in an abandoned car in a cardboard box. I waited 20 years to get him since I fell in love with my best friend’s dogs. I had just arrived in Cape Town and I decided that I needed a companion so I took an Uber and drove 40 minutes to this shelter to find him at the front pen of the shelter lying in his bed completely unfased with the constant stream of attention he was getting from visitors.

It was after rescuing him from the Domestic Animal Rescue Group in Cape Town that encouraged me to get involved and support dog rescue groups. It was Rocky who also got me involved in behavioural training in shelters as he came with a few behavioural challenges and most dogs are effected mentally from their time in shelters and this impacts their temperaments and behaviours.

Who is your current four-legged partner(s) in crime?

Rocky and Bella. I found Bella at the same shelter, while I was dropping off donated food for the dogs, in the same pen I had seen Rocky in four months before and I fell in love. She came up to me and immediately sat for a treat. I contacted the shelter an hour after I first saw her and begged them to allow me to foster her. She never went back to the shelter from the day I collected her. Bella is a cross between a baby seal and a Staffordshire terrier.

She is obsessed with humans and spends her time chasing things down or staring me down until I stroke her. Both Bella and Rocky travelled together to the UK earlier this year.

Where in the world is your absolute favourite dog walking spot?

Newlands Forest in Cape Town

What’s your best / most obscure “doggy fact”?

When a dog leans on you they are showing that they trust you implicitly. A lean is a full body hug!

And finally, what’s the one thing that the Wild at Heart Foundation community should know about you?!

I am studying to be a behaviourist.

Preparing your dog to meet your newborn

Having a baby is a big event for the whole family, and when we found out we were expecting my partner and I really wanted to make sure that Yvie our WAHF rescue dog was prepared for the changes that were coming. This was one of the reasons we worked with a dog behaviourist to create a section in our Postnatal Digital Kit to cover this topic.

We were aware that it would be easier for everyone if we spent a little bit of extra time training Yvie and helping her get ready for the changes in her routine as well as new sights, smells and sounds that may upset her.

Here is some of my top advice to help your dog adjust:

  • Get them used to the reduced attention before your baby arrives by separating them from you, for short periods of time every day, in the lead up to the birth.

  • If they are going to be kept out of certain rooms i.e. the baby’s room, start doing this as soon as possible by setting up baby gates ahead of time. This way they will feel comfortable well in advance of when you need them to.

  • Try not to overexcite or stress your dog by staying calm and relaxed when you bring your baby home.

  • Teach them how to approach the baby properly and gently. Allow them to make safe initial investigations and approaches under your supervision.

  • Give them treats and lots of praise when they behave well around the baby and try not to tell them off for what may have been natural behaviour before i.e. jumping up on the sofa.

  • Make sure that your dog has enough to do and is kept well exercised, even if it means considering a dogwalker for a while.

  • Make sure your dog must have a place that they feel safe and relaxed; somewhere that they can go to if things are getting too much for them.

Komu provides postnatal support to new parents through its range of Digital Kits which includes hours of video and audio content from Midwives and Postnatal experts to help them through those early days weeks and months with their newborn. It also has a special Mini Digital Kit which focuses on preparing your dog and includes:

  • Preparing your dog for the new arrival

  • What to do once your baby is here

  • How to manage the environment

  • What products to buy to ease the transition

  • A video to help you recognise the signs of stress in your dog

  • A downloadable audio clip of a baby crying to help your dog adjust to the new noises

Komu will donate 10% to Wild at Heart Foundation for every one of these kits purchased via our website:

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Meet the team: Eleanor

Eleanor joined Wild at Heart Foundation in 2018 to establish what has now become the Marketing & Fundraising department. Her role ranges from orchestrating fundraising efforts – be it public campaigns and appeals, or establishing new partnership and sponsorship opportunities – to managing the Foundation’s marketing channels.

To give you a better insight into Eleanor’s world of WAHF, she shares a little more about who she is and what she does…

What made you decide to pursue a career in dog rescue?

Like many people who gravitate towards the charity sector, I’d spent a lot of time drifting between industries and organisations without ever really feeling fulfilled. I worked in a whole range of jobs from an advertising agency, to a children’s publisher (including, bizarrely, appearing on BBC news as The Cat in the Hat!) but never managed to find anything that felt right for me.

That changed when I adopted a dog from Greece; there’s not many people that can say that their dog got them a job, but that’s how it happened for me! A few months after I adopted Panda, I saw the Marketing & Fundraising position advertised; I applied and was ecstatic when I found out I’d got the job. It means the world to be working for a cause that truly inspires me.

Wild at Heart in Puerto Rico

It means the world to be able to see and get involved in the projects that we fund – work that’s only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

 What does your “day job” mainly comprise of?

One of the things I love about Wild at Heart Foundation is that no two days are ever the same! By and large, my week is split between fundraising efforts for the charity: from meeting with partners and brands to discuss exciting collaboration opportunities; to planning and rolling out campaigns to support our projects. As such a small charity, our fundraising efforts are so tangibly linked to our project work, so it means the world to me whenever we receive a donation. Be it a £1 text from an individual, or a substantial contribution from a corporate supporter, I’ve seen firsthand just how far our donations can stretch, and its motivating to see the generosity of our supporters actually contributing to making a difference, and not just lingering in an account or being ploughed into huge overheads.

Busy on social media, even when out on a project…stealing a quick 5 minutes to post at a shelter in Lebanon before the pups found me and demanded more cuddles!

A portion of my time also goes towards managing our main marketing channels, including writing our newsletters, working with Meghan on our social media, and maintaining the website. We’re so lucky as a charity to have an absolutely incredible supporter base, and I’m always so grateful for the opportunities that come our way. It keeps the job fascinating and fulfilling on a daily basis and, more importantly, allows us to keep on doing the things that we love – rescuing even more dogs, and helping in the areas of the world that need us the most.

What’s your favourite part of working for Wild at Heart Foundation?

I genuinely love our adopters! I love seeing pictures of our dogs enjoying their lives, knowing that they’ve been saved from the saddest of starts. And the more money we raise, the more dogs we can save, so those success stories drive us all to keep doing what we do.

I’ve also loved fostering dogs for the Foundation. Playing a part in their journey from street dog to sofa hound is such a rewarding experience and, tough as it is to say goodbye, seeing dogs settle into their new lives having overcome the issues they initially struggled with makes it all so worth it.

Fostering Ghost for two months after she was dumped at one of our Puerto Rico clinics was the most wonderful journey for both of us. I’m so happy that she’s now settled into a loving home of her own.

Where in the world has your job taken you, and where would you like to go next?

This November was my 3rd clinic in Puerto Rico. The project is so truly representative of Wild at Heart Foundation’s work and what we stand for, and it’s been hugely eye-opening to get involved with the work on the island. In the last three clinics alone we’ve sterilised over 10,000 animals (every single one of which has passed through our registration – which, believe me, feels like a LOT of animals in just 6 days!) It’s a crazy, hectic, heart-breaking, inspiring trip and I love every minute of it.

I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to Thailand and Lebanon to raise funds and awareness for both these amazing projects. Wild at Heart Foundation’s reach is truly astounding, and I love that we’re not afraid to explore how we can help on a global scale, roll up our sleeves, and get stuck in alongside some truly inspiring partners and organisations.

If you were given £100,000 to spend on one rescue project, where/what would you most want to support?

So tough to say! There are so many places in the world where stray dogs face unspeakable hardships, and it’s hard to choose where to start. Having worked in the Caribbean in the past, I know that there’s a lot of desire to  help reduce the suffering (and number) of dogs on the streets, but lack of money, resource and specialist expertise gets in the way. I’d love to visit areas in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Barbados and work alongside communities that want to help their stray dog population but just need more support with which to do so.

Street dogs in Mexico: image courtesy of Smiles4Sale

Who was the first dog in your life?

I grew up with an amazing collie called Badger. He was quite literally my best friend – I used to take my tape recorder into his bed and sing to him (poor boy!), and whenever we had to make presents for our parents at school, I’d make them for Badger. I genuinely believe that growing up with a dog in the house is the best ever experience, and I love when our adopters who have / are expecting young children welcome a pup into their homes.

Badger c.1993 inspecting the latest cardboard-and-tinfoil creation I’d made for him!

Who is your current four-legged partner(s) in crime?

Panda from Lesvos! She’s the best co-worker I could ask for; although she snores more than your average colleague, and demands tug-of-war breaks every couple of hours which I didn’t used to have to contend with when I worked in an office.

Rescue dog from Greece

Where in the world is your absolute favourite dog walking spot?

I live just on the edge of Ashridge forest and I don’t get tired of the woodland walks on my doorstep. But I loved walking in the Lake District when I went for a holiday last year, and it was wonderful to watch Panda taking the Fells in her stride!

What’s your best / most obscure “doggy fact”?

A blood hound’s sense of smell is so reliable that it can be used as evidence in court. But I think I love this fact mainly because it makes me think of a dog taking to the witness stand and testifying…

And finally, what’s the one thing that the Wild at Heart Foundation community should know about you?!

I used to be a scuba diving instructor, and it’s still my all time favourite thing to do in my spare time. Diving is a great way to travel the world, and takes you to some of the most incredible, remote places (both above and below the waves!) Along with dogs, sharks are one of my favourite animals – I think they’ve suffered from bad PR and don’t deserve the villainous stigma they’ve been labelled with!


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