Our History

Beagle Welfare was founded in 1979, the result of an initiative by the Committee of the Beagle Association. At the time, people in many breeds were becoming concerned about the problem of pedigree dogs flooding general rescue organisations.

About Beagle Welfare It seemed only responsible for breed clubs to take the lead in ‘putting their own house in order’, and in any case, who better to deal with pedigree dogs than those who spend all their lives with them.

Very soon, Beagle Welfare developed an autonomous organisation, although it has always maintained close and friendly relations with all the Beagle breed clubs. By 1990 it had an established network of over twenty regional officers and was handling a budget of several thousand pounds a year. Accountability to the breed clubs has always been important to the active officers of Beagle Welfare and an Annual Report with audited accounts has been presented every year since its inception.

The Charity was Formed

It was felt that charitable status would be an advantage, both for Beagle Welfare itself, and as a safeguard for the people who generously give money to the organisation, and so in 1990 a successful application was made to the Charity Commissioners.

Occasionally Beagle Welfare has been called upon to handle more dramatic cases:

  • The ‘Scottish Puppies’ - intended for laboratory use but saved when their money-minded owner died - 28 poor little waifs who turned up five days before Christmas.
  • Various batches of Welsh ex-puppy farm rejects, often requiring extensive veterinary treatment.
  • And most spectacular of all, the ‘Perrycroft’ Beagles, when Beagle Welfare worked closely with the RSPCA around the country after advising the Headquarters’ team which directed the operation.
Beagle Welfare wins best Breed Rescue 1994

One of the high points in Beagle Welfare’s 30+ year history came in 1994 when it was awarded the Pet Plan / Dog World prize for Best Breed Rescue. The Trustees attended a lavish celebration in London - with a Welfare Beagle to represent the real heroes of the scheme - and received a large cheque for the funds and a magnificent crystal trophy. This award was a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all the people who had contributed to the growth of the scheme since 1979.

Rehoming Centre

In 2011 we opened our national rehoming centre near Burton Upon Trent, and took on our first part-time employee, Clare Clark, as rehoming manager, ably assisted by her husband Geoff.


By the start of 2013 it was already clear to the trustees that, if Beagle Welfare was to continue to grow and to operate successfully, modifications were needed to its structure and constitution. After much discussion, debate and expert advice, we developed a revised constitution and operations manual, both of which were ratified at the Annual Council Meeting in March. We are grateful to John Reymond and Christine Wynne for their hard work.

The main change to the way we operate is that our rehoming manager, Lesley Rootham, is now the central point of contact for anyone wishing to surrender or offer a home to a hound. Area officers continue to play a valuable supporting role. The new systems that are now in place mean Beagle Welfare runs on more efficient lines than ever before and we are better able to meet the increasing demands being placed upon us.

During the year we said farewell to David Brown, who retired after more than a decade as a trustee and fund raising officer, and to our treasurer of seven years, Diane Gratwick. Diane retired to devote more time to her family. Margaret Ryan stood down as chairman and Christine Wynne, who now leads the newly constituted Run Free Alliance, resigned as national secretary. We wish them all well.

In 2013 we rehomed 257 beagles, 69 fewer than in the previous year. This is partly due to the stricter screening that is possible with our new set up. We now turn away the crossbreeds and aggressive dogs which might otherwise have come into Welfare. In spite of a determined effort not to accept irredeemably aggressive dogs, we still had to to euthanise seven hounds in 2013 for this reason, a truly horrible duty for anyone to have to carry out. Many dogs do deserve a second chance and they get it with us, but we cannot repeatedly rehome seriously aggressive beagles, for the sake of the beagle, the owners, the reputation of the breed and of Beagle Welfare.

We continue to be unceasingly grateful for all the hard work put in by Clare and Geoff Clark at the rehoming centre in Burton upon Trent and we do know how lucky we are to have them. On more than one occasion new owners have been heard to say: ‘the beagles have such a great time here it’s a shame to take them away’ – a remark that is a powerful tribute to all that Clare and Geoff achieve on a daily basis.

The internet and the growth of social networking are proving invaluable to Beagle Welfare, both in terms of fundraising, education and rehoming. The ‘Beagle of the Month’ initiative devised by area officer Jo Morrison-Rowe, has proved particularly valuable in helping us find homes for some of our more difficult-to-home beagles, while our Facebook page, overseen by trustee Claire Ayres, provides a popular forum for supporters.

During 2013 we were overwhelmed by the support and generosity we received from people all over the UK. A number of major fund-raising events took place and more are in the pipe-line, not least of which is the Tour de Beagle: a sponsored cycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End, which has already raised more than £8,000. The team spent most of 2013 in fundraising, training and making plans. Our thanks and best wishes go to all of them.

2014 – Our 35th Anniversary

2014 is a special year for Beagle Welfare as we celebrate our 35th anniversary. Our summer celebration was held on Sunday 29th June in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, the home of Joan Lennard, our first secretary and current Chairman. More details about this and other events can be found on our News and Events page.

2014 also sees the 20th anniversary of Helen Rogers opening her own kennels for Welfare hounds in the south east of England.