Belfast Telegraph

Derry girl Jessica Craig (9) steps out to give abandoned dogs a truly merry Christmas

Jessica Craig with Mr Jingles from the pet shelter.
Jessica Craig with Mr Jingles from the pet shelter.
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A young girl was so concerned about abandoned dogs spending the festive season in her local animal shelter that she embarked on a 60-day walking challenge so they could have some well-deserved treats.

Nine-year-old Jessica Craig, a pupil at the Fountain Primary School in Londonderry, asked her mum Amy what happened to unwanted dogs at Christmas while they were out walking their family pet Polly.

Shocked at the idea that a dog would be alone, Jessica walked three miles every day for the next 60 days and donated the money raised to Pet FBI.

Volunteers at the shelter in Eglinton in Derry will make sure the nine dogs still there enjoy the treats Jessica donated along with £300 in cash.

Jessica said: "I was really sad when my mum told me there would be some dogs that would have to spend Christmas at the shelter instead of being with a family.

"Our dog Polly is from a shelter and we love her so I wanted to show the dogs still not with a family that I love them too.

"I walked every day no matter what the weather was like and I raised over £340.

"I gave Pet FBI £300 and spent the rest on doggie treats, so the dogs still at the shelter can enjoy Christmas."

Amy said she was so proud of Jessica.

"She was determined to do this and to her credit she went out in some atrocious weather, including rain, hail and wind," she said.

"During the 60 days we had a trip planned in EuroDisney but Jessica still walked her three miles - she just did it around Dublin Airport.

"For the most part I went with Jessica, although her daddy did some days as well, so I have to say I am glad this challenge is over.

"Jessica has already said she wants to do it again, only next time she wants to do it for 100 days but I think we'll wait to the summer for that."

Lisa Patton from Pet FBI said they were so grateful for Jessica's help.

"Jessica is an amazing wee girl and is an inspiration to anyone," she said.

"To endure such a challenge for so many days shows how much she cares for animals.

"We have rehomed 153 dogs this year along with 46 cats and even two rabbits, but we still have nine dogs with us.

"This has been a tough year for us, we currently have a vet's bill of nearly £6,000, so contributions like this from Jessica are very welcome."

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