Stephen’s dogged determination


A DOG charity which saves pets from death row is appealing for volunteers to help continue its work.

Shak – which stands for Safe homes and kindness – was set up five years ago by Stephen Wylie, 37.



Named after his dog that died suddenly from lymphoma, Shak takes in dogs which would otherwise have been put to sleep.

And pooches from Southampton to Inverness have been rehoused at the charity’s kennels on a farm north of Alnwick.

Stephen said: “We take in the dogs that no one else wants.

“We take those with illnesses and medical conditions. When nobody else wants to help, we give them a chance.



“Shak was the name of my dog, a German shepherd-cross, who died out of the blue. I got him from a dog shelter and I decided to give up some time to volunteer.

“I did some dog walking and it just came about that way. I had my own business at the time and came to an agreement with my business partner, packed that in and set up Shak.

“It’s taken five years to get to where we are now, but it is so rewarding.

“Some of the dogs we take in have had such a bad time.

“I have been bitten before as well but it is brilliant when you work out why that bite has happened and you can stop it happening in the future.

“It’s just a passion.

“When a dog is taken by a pound it is given ten days before it is put to sleep. That’s where we come in.

“They come here and we deal with any problems they have had. We try to understand why they have problems.”

Five-year-old Shane, a German Shepherd, would have been put down had Stephen not taken him in.

“He had huge behavioural problems because his owners hadn’t socialised him,” he said.

“When we went to get him he was ready to bite anyone that came near him.

“But now he’s great. You have to train them physically and mentally.”

Ellie, a two-year-old Staffordshire Bull terrier was a stray. Stephen ‘fell in love’ with her face and she’s still learning.

There are around 52 dogs currently living at Shak and it is hoped that some will be rehomed as part of the charity’s forever foster scheme.

Stephen add: “We have to make sure that the owner is right for the dog, we lead them in to taking a foster dog with coming for walks, afternoons at homes and sleepovers to get the dogs acclimatised.

“But some of them will never be rehomed.”

However because of the amount of dogs now being housed by Shak, more volunteers are needed to carry out an array of duties.

Dog walkers, people to clean food bowls, kennel cleaners, fund-raisers and more are wanted to help keep it going.

The charity runs entirely on donations, with most of its food provided by others.

But its biggest expense is vet bills.

Stephen said that they use a surgery in Backworth which is used to them bringing in new dogs to get checked out when they come in.

People can also leave donations at the vets to pay for medical bills.

Alongside the dogs at the kennels Shak has around 15 dogs with foster families and six at his own home.

One of those is Dudley, who was driven to a field in Kent and left.

He has Chronic Degenerative Radiculo-Myelopathy, which affects his muscles.

If you are interested in volunteering contact Stephen on 07931 702345 or email

A blog is also set up at where you can follow the work that the charity does and the dogs that have been rehomed and details of how to make donations.

A page on social networking website Facebook has also been set up.