AN animal sanctuary says quarrelling neighbours, noise abatement orders and the death of 12 animals have been blessings in disguise.

The Retreat Animal Sanctuary in Daltons Road, Crockenhill, was dealt its first blow in November last year, when a dozen animals died after a neighbour’s firework display.

The centre, which cares for unwanted animals, was then handed a noise abatement notice in February by Sevenoaks District Council, forcing them to keep dogs indoors between 5pm and 8am.

But owner Billy Thompson, 42, said that the publicity both incidents brought increased the number of animals brought to them so much that they now need to expand.

He said: “Since the incident with the fireworks we have had so many more people come in bringing us dog food, cat food, blankets.

“A lot more people found out about us so we get more wildlife brought here on a daily basis.”

Mr Thompson, who runs the centre with his partner Neil Davies, 46, said that the Crockenhill base will care solely for wildlife from August onwards, while hundreds of domestic animals will move onto a second site in Sussex.

Mr Thompson added: “It’s really bizarre, because when the trouble happened last year we lost some animals; got the abatement notice; were depressed; then slowly but surely we opened up to the idea of buying a remote farm.

“It’s given us a kick up the backside really.

“It’s extra expense, but it will benefit more animals. It’s like you fall into a pit of muck and come up smelling of roses.

“But we will never forget the animals that died.”

Charity help

A foreign exchange company has vowed to donate a day’s worth of profits to Retreat – because one of its employees is a dog lover.

On August 3, all money made in commission sales at UKForex, based in London, will be given to the sanctuary.

Compliance officer at UKForex, Hannah Taylor got her three-year-old dog Bailey from the sanctuary, and its staff still look after the Staffordshire-cross occasionally.

The 26-year-old, from Orpington, said: “Now that the company has got to a certain size we can start giving back to people.

“Because I live in Orpington and raise funds for Retreat myself I wanted to choose them. I think animal charities tend to get overlooked by big companies.”

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