Nicola’s call to arms for Dog’s Trust

A DENTON-BASED call handler for an animal charity could be forgiven for dreading the phone ringing – it has done more than 45,000 times!But Nicola Hughes would not have it any other way, except when it is about a pig!

Over the past five years, Nicola has found herself the point of contact for the Manchester Dog’s Trust, which is based at Parkway, near Sainsbury’s supermarket.

It certainly provides a varied working day – although people getting their animals mixed up certainly provided a new challenge.

Nicola, who lives in Dukinfield, said: “I can’t believe it’s five years since I started working here.

Every day is different and you never know what call you are going to take next.

“One minute you could be having a difficult conversation with someone who is having to give up their dog due to anything from a change in working hours to a death or illness in the family, and then next you might be talking to someone who is really excited because they have seen a dog on the website that they think they might be able to give a perfect home to.

“My most surprising call was when someone phoned to call about finding a new home for a pig.

“I was shocked to say the least! I gave him the name of an appropriate organisation and wished him luck.

“I like to think the pig found it’s perfect forever home.”

Nicola’s total of 45,639 calls received is part of more than one and a half million taken by the Dog’s Trust over the last five years.

Its national contact centre, which is based in Denton, handles calls for its 50 public phone lines, including the charity’s London head office and its 20 UK-based rehoming centres, which care for more than 15,000 rescue dogs every year.

Most calls into the contact centre – more than 324,000 – have been from people enquiring about a particular dog they would like to adopt.

The second highest number of calls, more than 195,000, are from owners enquiring about handing their dog over to the charity.The charity has taken more than 35,000 calls from people enquiring about volunteering and more than 20,000 people who have adopted dogs have called to let the team know how well their new four-legged friend is settling into family life.

But calls received are not always about man’s best friend.

Contact centre manager Paul Roelake said: “We get some more unusual calls. We have had calls from someone wanting to hand over a donkey, quite a few requests for us to find new homes for cats, advice as to how we can stop a parrot pulling its feathers out and someone wanting advice on how to care for a hedgehog.

“We do our best to help whatever the enquiry and put people in touch with the correct organisations.

“However, one of the most memorable calls we have had was from someone wanting to hand over two koi carp. We did actually find them a home – in the pond at our West London Rehoming Centre.

“In the first phase we had just 10 people handling calls for three of our rehoming centres. Now we are a team of 65 responding to about 1,500 calls a day as well as email enquiries.

“We also make outbound calls to dog lovers who have adopted dogs from us.

“We check in with them two days after the dog has gone home, then two weeks later and at four months to check everything is okay and to offer the support of Dogs Trust if needed.”

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