Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Hero woman fosters 155 dogs in three years ‘They give so much in return’

Buddy Dogs: Woman discusses how scheme has helped daughter

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Kimberley Freeman, who works as canine trainer and behaviourist with 18 years of experience under her belt, has taken care of all the pooches in her Central London flat. Running her own business, City Sit Stay, the dog lover runs free online preparation classes for fosterers to teach them about body language and training.

On top of her busy schedule, Kimberley also owns six Pomeranians that now help her socialise the dogs that come to her for fostering.

She said: “I come from the unique point of view where I can foster dogs with a few behavioural issues and set them up to succeed in their forever homes.

“Before the pandemic, I was taking in as many dogs as I could. I couldn’t just send a quid or two a week to rescue – I needed to use my skills and expertise to try and help as much as possible.

“I work with a lot of rescue groups and do private rehoming and it’s usually the more difficult cases that get sent to me.

“Any fosterer has a huge responsibility on their shoulders and I want these dogs to be set up for the rest of their lives.”

The Londoner’s love of animals began when she rescued her first family pet Sam, before moving to New York where taking on eight pitbull puppies in her Manhattan apartment.

Admitting that the large number of dogs can be challenging at times, the trainer said looking after hounds that will never find a new home is tough.

She said: “Whilst I was living in the States, there was an Italian greyhound that had been abandoned in a basement.

“She was so old, frail and ill – we all put thousands of dollars into helping her and she had to live out the rest of her life in foster care because there was no way we could rehome her.

“Those end of life fosters are the most heartbreaking because you know they’re going but you have to show them what love is right until the very end. I have to give them everything.”

Now living back in London, Kimberley only takes on small and medium sized dogs due to the limited living space.

She dreams of one day owning a country house with acres of land where she fosters as many dogs as possible.

If things were not hectic enough, the trainer runs a blog named City Dog Expert – adding: “It’s something that’s really important to me that people are rescuing and realise there are good dogs out there.

“Every time you fall in love with these little dogs and then they go on to their forever home so it’s a bit bittersweet.

“You give a bit of your soul to every single rescue, but they give you so much more in return.”

Following Freedom Day on July 19, Kimberley hopes to see the UK become more dog friendly, but fears many pooches adopted during the pandemic will be given up as people return to work.

She said: “I’d love to see flexi working where people can work from home or take their dog into work – that’s what I hope.

“The part of me that has worked in rescue for 16 years is concerned, the trainer in me is even more concerned about the lack of socialisation these young puppies have had.

“Only 4-5 per cent of dogs have had any kind of training over the past year which is a terrifying statistic.

“We are probably going to see a rise in one to one and a half year old dogs with separation anxiety, issues with sound and noise phobias and dogs unable to deal with crowded situations.

“I’m hoping it’s not the case, but the priority just hasn’t been on training this year.”

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