Volunteer gives animals second chance at life

When Kerry McPherson isn’t working at the Department of Human Services she generously volunteers her time to help two organisations rehabilitate and re-home ex working animals – Chapel Lodge Standardbred Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. and the Greyhound Adoption Program SA.

“Every year, the large number of greyhounds and horses that don’t make it in the racing industry face a bleak future. It’s a great feeling, knowing I’m doing my bit to rehome some of these beautiful animals,” Kerry said.

“Chapel Lodge takes on retired harness racing horses and retrains them for riding. This process takes months of hard work and dedication. Over the past five years, we’ve rehomed 80 horses. My daughter Kathryn is one of their chief riders – breaking in the horses and showing them at gymkhanas and other public events.

“My own involvement started several years ago when I was injured in a riding accident. I had decided to give up riding but Chapel Lodge persuaded me to ride one of their quiet star recruits, Spinner to get my confidence back. I ended up adopting him – so it turned out both of us were rehabilitated in our own way.”

Kerry helps Chapel Lodge however she can – from selling raffle tickets to working with the horses.

“I remember one occasion where I spent four nights sitting up with a sick horse. Against all odds this horse made a full recovery thanks to the volunteers and dedicated people at Chapel Lodge,” Kerry said.

“During the January 2015 Adelaide Hills’ Bushfires, I was part of their rescue team – using my float to bring horses to the safety of their property and, afterwards, to deliver feed to burnt out areas.”

As well as her work with horses, Kerry and her family are foster carers for retired greyhounds.

“We decided to take on a ‘grey’ about three years ago after seeing a Greyhound Adoption Program SA stall at the Million Paws Walk,” Kerry said.

“The process involves bringing a dog into our home for eight to ten weeks, socialising it with other dogs (and in our case a cat!), taking it out in public and exposing it to life with a family until it goes to its ‘forever’ home.

“Initially we were a little concerned because we also have chickens and horses but the ‘greys’ quickly learn these aren’t for chasing. Since then we’ve fostered about 20 dogs. Every one of them has found a home and made someone very happy.

“We have just taken on another grey, named Scarlet. Our previous grey left our care and was placed in a nursing home as a companion dog, which will suit his sweet nature.”

Kerry says although saying goodbye is hard, it is worth it.

“Of course it’s sad. But when people come and see their new dog for the first time, their faces light up and you understand your ‘grey’ is just starting a new chapter of its life with a new family where they will be loved,” Kerry said.

“Many new owners send us Christmas cards and letters to tell us how well their dogs are tracking. As one lady wrote to me, ‘this dog has literally saved my life’. What more could you want?”

Kerry and the family also take the dogs to expos and school open days to promote the breed.

“They are such lovely dogs—quiet and well behaved—big couch potatoes, and it’s such a rewarding experience. I totally recommend being a foster carer.”

More information