Way back in 1970’s Paul Houlden took pity on Benny the monkey, whose future looked far from bright when he was stranded in a quarantine pen. Paul paid the fee to release and care for his new pet, until the time came when Benny was found a good home in a local zoo.
Now, devoted to the principle that “animals are little people, and deserve to be looked after”, Paul and his wife Lesley run the Animal Rescue Foundation, with the main aim of raising funds to, in turn, help small animal charities throughout the UK.
Both run their own businesses, but have successfully developed the Foundation on the premise that “We are an enabling charity, awarding grants to other small animal charities so they can keep going”.
Paul sums it up this way: “Cats, dogs, pigs, ponies, donkeys,horses – you name it. Why do we do it? Because we love animals.
We join up the dots, helping animal charities and people who are caring for animals with an immediate need for assistance. We are a local answer to a national need, making a difference to small charities”.
He recalls the first charity helped by the Foundation, an organization known as HULA (Home for Unwanted and Lost Animals) in Bedfordshire, which received a total of £9.500 for new building and fencing.
HULA was founded by a concerned vet, his wife and other animal lovers, after a lady brought her young puppy into their veterinary surgery and asked for it to be put down “as I’m going on holiday and can’t afford to put the dog in kennels”. At that time, there were no animal rescue centres in Bedfordshire. The vet refused and Blackie became the first rescued animal.
The charity is a good example of the sort of deserving cause the Animal Rescue Foundation has helped over the years. HULA takes in unwanted and abandoned small animal pets (cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs etc.) for re-homing. It also rescues larger animals and has goats, pigs, Shetland ponies, chickens, ducks, geese and sheep as well as a steer and heifer.