‘The day I stop trying to save them is the day I pack it in’

BBC Inside Out presenter Chris Jackson with SHAK founder Stephen Wylie and Ged the dog during the show. Image from the BBC
BBC Inside Out presenter Chris Jackson with SHAK founder Stephen Wylie and Ged the dog during the show. Image from the BBC

The vital work of a Northumberland dog sanctuary has been showcased to a regional audience, after featuring on a popular BBC One programme.

SHAK, which has its headquarters in Alnwick, starred on Inside Out (North East and Cumbria) last Monday evening.

The episode highlighted the important role that the charity plays in rehabilitating mistreated, neglected and abused dogs, with particular focus on its work with potentially dangerous canines to prevent them from being put down.

Inside Out presenter Chris Jackson went to the sanctuary’s kennels at a rural location outside Alnwick to meet founder Stephen Wylie and discover how SHAK saves dogs from death row.

Stephen told the programme: ‘We take in the dogs that nobody else will. We put in some work with the dog and correct its problem, rather than writing if off and putting it to sleep.

‘I think every dog is redeemable, to a level. I don’t believe every dog will end up curled up on a sofa, but I do think they are capable of having a quality of life. Deep down they don’t want much – they need food, exercise and a little bit of comfort.

‘The line that people always say to me is ‘you can’t help them all’. My come back to that is always ‘yes, but the day I stop trying to save them all is the day I have to pack it in’.”

Since forming 11 years ago, SHAK has taken in more than 1,000 dogs. One of the more recent additions was Staffordshire bull terrier, Ged, who arrived showing signs of fear aggression, but has calmed under the charity’s expert care and has begun to trust people.

During the programme, Stephen took Ged to meet Laura Priestner and her daughter Katie, who is now scared of some Staffies after helping her friend escape a serious dog attack in Blyth in 2016.

After the episode, Stephen said he was proud of Ged and was delighted with the show.

He said: “I think to have such exposure is something that you can’t really put a price on. It really has made an impact on things like Facebook followers and I’ve received some nice emails from strangers saying how much they enjoyed the show and appreciate the work we do.

“Someone stopped me in Heighley Gate car park on Friday morning and asked ‘were you on the telly this week?’

“I was so proud of Ged. The fact he was even out like that shows how much he has come on and the fact that he now trusts me enough to get so close to him makes everything worthwhile.”

The episode is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for a limited time, or visit SHAK’s Facebook page or www.shak.org.uk to see it.