The success story of one of our long-term residents has inspired an exciting new initiative which aims to ease the transition from kennels to forever home for dogs whose adoption journeys can be more difficult.

Staffordshire bull terrier, April, spent a few years with us at the sanctuary before her luck changed in October 2020, when Laura and Gary decided to give her a chance in their loving home. As part of her rehoming journey, April and her new owners subsequently benefitted from the expertise of a dog behaviourist, helping her adjust from kennel to home life.

Sadly, April was diagnosed with cancer at the start of 2022. Mindful that the diagnosis was not going to allow April long enough in her loving home to make up for all those days in rescue, Laura decided she wanted to help other dogs in similar positions.

So, during this difficult time, Laura set up a birthday fundraiser to help dogs in their rehoming journeys. She realised there were many more who, like April, could benefit from the input of a behaviourist to help them find – and keep – their forever homes and that their time was also limited.

The birthday money raised was subsequently used to fund one-to-one behaviourist training for two lovely dogs – Bozo and Sammy – resulting in a lasting legacy to our long-term girl in what is now known as ‘April’s Wish’.



Labrador, Bozo, was originally rescued in France, before moving to Northern Ireland and being admitted to the sanctuary. As a result of having a number of different homes in his short life, it was clear that separation anxiety was contributing to the difficulties in finding Bozo his forever home. The trauma of being surrendered to various rescue centres had only exacerbated this issue – one that is impossible to overcome in a kennel environment unless a vet-approved calming medication is considered to help relieve anxieties.

However, the money raised through Laura and April’s fundraiser allowed us to provide bespoke behavioural support post-adoption for Bozo. These one-to-one sessions with ‘Dogs Best Friend’, Al Rankin, were invaluable and ensured that Bozo’s adopters were equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with his separation anxiety and to ensure that he remained in his forever home. A great success story!


Our second dog to benefit from ‘April’s Wish’ was Sammy, a little Yorkie crossbreed who, although being the cutest little fella, preferred his own company and did not like to be fussed over. Sammy’s adopters persevered, however, having being made aware of these concerns and, after many meets and greets, took Sammy home. Al has since developed a plan for Sammy, which his adopters will now replicate to ensure yet another success story – one where this little man will remain in his forever home.



Can you help?

As we think about April and her journey from Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary to Laura’s loving home, along with her recent diagnosis, we will continue to hold a place in our hearts for her.

While April may now have less time remaining than anticipated, her adopters are ensuring that she has everything she could possibly wish for to live a full and happy life. And, with your help, she will continue to assist other dogs through ‘April’s Wish’ – both now and into the future.

If you also believe that all our dogs at the sanctuary should have the chance to benefit from one-to-one expert behaviourist training to help them fulfil their wish of a forever home, then please donate to ‘April’s Wish’ through our JustGiving page click here.

If you’d like to be part of this journey, it couldn’t be easier – and you can rest assured that all income raised through this initiative will be allocated to support our more ‘difficult to home’ dogs. Their new adopters will be given an outline of practical actions which they can use to assist their new best friend’s transition into their forever homes, with the aim of making this as stress-free as possible for everyone.

This is what we all work and wish for – that all our dogs find their forever homes and remain there indefinitely – and we know our supporters wish for the same. ‘April’s Wish’ will help us to achieve this goal.


Animal welfare risk

‘April’s Wish’ is a particularly important and relevant initiative for the challenging times we’re currently living in. Indeed, with the combined cost of living crisis and a significant rise in dog ownership seen during lockdowns, it’s feared that we may be at the beginning of an animal welfare crisis.

At the sanctuary, we’re seeing an increase in the number of animals coming into our care, just as rehoming is slowing down, with more people giving up their pets to rescue. This is due to various reasons – for example, some inexperienced owners are unable to manage their dogs’ behavioural issues, as a result of poor training and a lack of socialisation. Meanwhile, many workers are returning to the office environment and are no longer at home to care for their dogs.

Together with the cost of living fears, this all comes together to create the perfect storm in animal welfare.

That’s why ‘April’s Wish’ is now more important than ever.

Thank you for supporting us and we will keep you updated on those dogs who benefit directly through ‘April’s Wish’.