A popular vet who moved to Spain to help set up a rescue centre has died suddenly, leaving the project in jeopardy.
Hope for Podencos has to raise 120,000 euros in a matter of weeks to save the centre in Albacete from closing after the heartbreaking loss of one of its founders.
Suzannah Stacey sold her house in Lloyd Goring Close, Angmering, and moved to Spain in November to work with the charity to set up the rescue centre for abused and abandoned Spanish hunting dogs, called podencos.
For 14 years, she ran Sussex Animal Acupuncture, covering Worthing, Littlehampton, Storrington, Steyning, Lancing, Sompting and the surrounding areas. She also worked at 121 Animal Therapy in Eastergate.
Suzannah decided to close her acupuncture business so she could devote her time to what she described as ‘those far less fortunate who have nothing, not even the right to a life’.
Working with Irene and Steve Allan, she wanted to really make a difference to ‘these poor hounds that we cherish so much’ but she died suddenly from an aneurysm on January 23.
Irene and Steve, who co-founded the centre, are already living in the property in Spain and 40 dogs have settled in but the project is in danger of collapse as the final payment for the centre was to be funds from the sale of Suzannah’s house.
Irene said: “Suzannah had committed years of her life to the plight of these beautiful dogs but sadly, during her move to purchase the new centre in November, had not been able to finalise all of the legal documents to secure the funds for the centre in case of her passing, which was sudden and unexpected by all of her family and friends.
“This has devastatingly left the charity without its benefactor and owner of the centre, while all funds are tied up in probate.
“We now need to raise the money from scratch to be able to secure the property again, even though we are living in it with the dogs already moved in and settled while waiting for their adoptions to their forever homes.
“If we can’t secure this funding in the timeframe, we will lose the centre and be out of our home.”
Podencos are hunting dogs and when they have finished their working life, they are often discarded by their owners. Most are rescued from Gran Canaria and the mainland of Spain.
Julie Hillier, who rehomed a podenco puppy called Fernando from the charity last year, said: “My beautiful boy wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for this remarkable woman and her dedication to saving these much-abused animals.”
Suzannah became aware of the plight of the podenco via social media and set up Saving the Gran Canaria Podencos online and on Facebook as a rescue group.
She arranged to pay the kennel fees for podencos on the island until they could be taken to the Spanish mainland to be assessed by Hope for Podencos, the Allans’ charity.
Irene said: “Where we were before had limited room, as we also took podencos from the mainland.
“We got chatting, as you do, and we said if something came up, we would go and look. Last August, this place appeared, so over Suzannah came and off we went to see it.
“Suzannah then said she would pay half and we would pay the rest on a monthy basis, as a rent to buy property. She changed her mind last December and decided that all the monies from her property would go to buying the property, making it easier and less stressful, and we would amalgamate the two.
“Sadly, this didn’t happen and has left us in a precarious position with the original owner, as they are now looking for the rest of the money.
“Her will off, course, hadn’t been changed and stands as it is in the UK, with no monies coming to Spain. Suzannah would have been devastated at this, so we have to fight to keep the centre and our dream and so Suzannah’s name cannot be forgotten.”
Suzannah’s three sisters, Deborah Molwuka, Frances Sedgwick and Meredith Stone are all 100 per cent behind the centre.
People who worked with Suzannah in Sussex have described her as a clever lady who was kind and caring, and loved helping animals.
Irene set up the YouCaring fundraising page on February 1 and said the money had to be raised in three weeks.
So far, more than a quarter of the total needed has been raised. Visit www.youcaring.com/hopeforpodencos-1091834 to make a donation.
Visit https://www.hopeforpodencos.com for more information about the centre.