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Pet rescue president passes on his lead

The president of animal rescue charity Phoenix, who founded the association with his wife, is stepping down from his role due to ill health. 

Richard Johnson leaves a team which intends to continue the work started by him and wife Sheelagh.

They realised soon after arriving in France in 1990 that many stray dogs and ill-treated animals needed care. The couple (pictured above), have devoted their time ever since to looking after as many as possible.

Phoenix, based in Dordogne, has around 500 members and rehomes about 200 dogs and 80 to 100 cats every year.

It does not have a refuge centre. Foster carers look after the dogs and cats until someone can be found to adopt them.

Phoenix holds several fundraising events every year.

The biggest are the spring and autumn book fairs, with the next one on May 4.

There will be around 20,000 books to choose from, as well as CDs, DVDs, plants, bric-a-brac and cakes.

The last fair raised €17,500.

Acting president Madeleine Bath said that, after expenses, all the money goes on animal care: “The association is run on a shoestring and its success is down to its members.

“We need every penny we can get, because our outgoings are at least €90,000 a year, and nearly all that goes on vet bills.”

She says Phoenix is working on the best ways to target its funds: “We think sterilisation programmes for cats are particularly effective, because they are difficult to rehome. We recently paid for the sterilisation of 19 cats belonging to one woman in a local village.”

She said there are still as many stray and abandoned dogs needing adoption as ever, but their profile is changing.

“There are more elderly dogs and to assist adopters who take them on we have introduced a Phoenix Pensioners Plan, so the dog goes into a new home with a sum of money to help cover likely bills,” she said.

New volunteers are always welcome. “We would love to have some new foster carers, and will give them plenty of support,” added Mrs Bath.

You can also join the Phoenix book fair team, which meets every Friday to sort books, help the book fair caterers provide refreshment, join a sponsored dog walk, or be a member for €20 a year.

Read stories from Phoenix dog owners at

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