If there was any doubt the UK is a nation of dog lovers, that was resolved last September after a fire broke out at Manchester Dogs’ Home.
The blaze sparked a nationwide response, with members of the public digging deep to offer their support to the centre – and, more importantly, its residents.
Donations to a JustGiving account set up by the Manchester Evening News reached £1 million in one day. Several other fundraising campaigns followed and donations topped £2 million.
At one point the sheer volume of people traveling with blankets and food to the centre’s sister site, Cheshire Dogs’ Home, where all the surviving dogs were taken, brought a section of the M6 to a standstill.
“It was truly amazing,” the home's manager Steve Mapley told The Independent. “In the first few days following the fire we couldn’t comprehend the level of the response we received - thank you is not enough.”
Rescuers managed to save 150 dogs following the arson attack but sadly 58 animals lost their lives.
In December two teenage boys arrested on suspicion of torching the premises were released without charge.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police told The Independent officers were not looking to speak to anybody else in connection with the incident and admitted the investigation has reached a “dead end”. The spokesman said the investigation was still “technically on going” but that it had not progressed since December. However, he later claimed: “It is very much an active investigation.”
A year on from the tragedy the centre is still in a period of transition.
“At the moment we’re still looking at plans for the new permanent building,” Mr Mapley said.
“We’ve renovated one of the old blocks and that will become a temporary adoption centre – we’re hoping it will be open at the end of September.”
Mr Mapley described the loss of 58 dogs as "heart wrenching" and added that staff would be marking the one-year anniversary of the fire on 11 September privately.
“It’s been a very, very tough year for everybody. We’re going to let the one-year anniversary pass and let staff have that day for themselves.
“These dogs were part of our family…The staff were in shock. I’m amazed at the strength of the team and how they coped with the situation,” he said.
But despite the heartbreak, staff are excited for the future and are looking forward to the opening of the temporary centre.
“We hope to get so many more dogs their forever home and help so many people find their new best friend,” Mr Mapley said.
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