About Holly Hedge

Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary was first registered as a charity in 1982 and was known as ‘Animal Concern’ it was run by Pauline Leeson (our founder) who worked from her own home with the support of foster carers – her aim has always been to provide a safe haven for cats and dogs (and sometimes other small furries) until loving, permanent and responsible new owners in the Bristol and surrounding areas can be found; and this continues to be the purpose of the Charity today.

Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary (as it is now known) in Barrow Gurney, opened its gates to unwanted, abandoned and often mistreated animals in March 1992, up until this time the site at Barrow Gurney had been run as a private kennels. This transformation from private kennels to an animal charity was due to a large financial gift from one of our most generous benefactors, Esmi Berni, her gift enabled ‘Animal Concern’ to purchase the site and become ‘Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary’ as we know it today (registered charity number 294606).

A further gift, again very generously left to us by Esmi Berni in her Will, enabled us to knock down the dilapidated and run down kennels and buildings and replace them with more up to date, efficient and comfortable quarters – since that time the charity has saved thousands of animals and continued to update, revamp or replace old kennels and cat pens. This has also been made possible by the support of a local corporate supporter, without their support in recent years we wouldn’t be the Charity that we are today.

Some of our rescues have been much-loved pets but changed circumstances have forced their owners to part with them. Others come to us as strays – unwanted and abandoned. Some come to us because their owners simply can’t cope with them or they just don’t want them anymore, sadly sometimes animals come to us because their owner has died and there is no one left to look after them.

We also try to take as many ‘death row dogs’ as we possibly can, from council run dog pounds across the country. Many sweet-natured loving animals find themselves facing destruction because they have not been claimed by their owners within the short time period of 7 days. These animals receive no veterinary care and many are in a poor state of health. This is heart breaking and sadly we cannot help them all, but where possible we offer these animals the chance of a new life.

Whatever their reason for being here they all deserve the promise of a brighter future with caring, permanent and responsible new owners. Until we are able to find them their new forever home they are assured a safe haven with us. The accommodation at Holly Hedge is of a high standard; the animals are well fed and receive the best of comfort and veterinary care. There is a warden on duty at all times and evening staff come in for two hours each evening to see to the needs of all the animals on site and to ‘tuck’ them in for the night.

We also endeavour to help as many elderly animals as possible, ensuring that loving new owners are found so that they can enjoy individual attention and all the comforts of home. No matter how good or caring it is, an institutionalised environment is no place for any animal to end its days.

We promote responsible pet ownership and ensure that all our animals are neutered before going to their new home (or that arrangements are in place to do so once the animal is old enough) to help stop the cycle of unwanted kittens and puppies. It is important to us to work within our local community; from school talks and tours to presentations at local businesses we can be found taking an active role in promoting responsible pet ownership. To find out more about our work within the community please visit our Get Involved section of the website.

Due to the nature of the history of some of our animals we employ a behaviourist who comes in and works with our four legged friends on a regular basis to help them over-come any behavioural issues which might otherwise be an obstacle for them when being considered for a new home. We also encourage owners who are at their wits end to seek help with any behavioural issues that they might be experiencing before bringing their animals to us. For further information about behavioural issues you are experiencing with your pet visit our FAQ’s page or Contact Us.

The aim and ethos here at Holly Hedge is simple; to ‘Provide shelter from harm and the promise of a brighter future’