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Taken to the river to drown then dumped, these little pups just want to be loved

By Rebecca Black

Published 06/08/2015

Meet the handsome chap who has raised no less than £300,000 to save the lives of rejected dogs across Northern Ireland.

Bentley the Irish red setter, at the age of 10, is now nearing retirement, but has embarked on a final challenge - to save the lives of 500 abandoned dogs.

He plans to do this by raising £10,000 to go towards a new van to transport dogs from Northern Ireland's overflowing animal sanctuaries to England and Scotland, where they can be rehomed faster.

Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Co Down has been running the Chance of a Lifetime programme for almost 15 years and has saved the lives of tens of thousands of dogs by doing so.

Dogs are rescued from council pounds across Northern Ireland, where they risk being put down if they are not rehomed within a set period.

So far the appeal has raised around £1,200 online.

Lynda Hill, a friend of Bentley and Chance of a Lifetime driver, said a donation of £20 will save the life of a dog, but said even smaller donations will help.

"Bentley is a very special dog; in a former life he was a show dog and even qualified for Crufts," she said.

"Since coming to live with Alison Lennon he has done fantastic work fundraising, with his history as a show dog he is well used to attention and has been a huge draw, travelling all over to collections and bringing people over to us.

"Now he is 10, which is a good age for an Irish red setter, and he has set himself one final goal to save 500 dogs."

Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Abandoned puppies that were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary

She explained that Bentley lives with three rescue dogs with very sad stories.

"He lives with three-legged terrier Bandit, who was found in Belfast and could have been put down had he not been rescued," she said.

"Then there is Megan the border collie; she was left at Craigavon pound as a rejected Christmas pup; and Poppy, who was recently rescued from a puppy farm."

Fundraising organisers Alison and Linda were also involved with rescuing eight puppies found abandoned close to a river near Omagh earlier this week.

Assisi manager Heather Weatherup said: "They were abandoned beside a river and we think somebody has gone there to drown them.

"Then, when they got there, they couldn't do it."

Bentley the dog and Alison Lennon
Bentley the dog and Alison Lennon

Heather said the pups are about six weeks old and won't be available for rehoming for another several weeks.

To donate to Bentley's campaign log on to https://www.justgiving.com/save500/

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