Animal sanctuary set to expand

Mandy Leigh from Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary at the then fire-damaged site in 2011
Mandy Leigh from Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary at the then fire-damaged site in 2011
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An animal sanctuary once severely damaged in an arson attack could be set for a new lease of life after ambitious plans were submitted to expand the centre.

Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in St Annes has applied to extend its site to accommodate more animals after an increase in cats and dogs being donated to the centre.

The bid by the sanctuary comes just three years after two men killed hens, cats and a rabbit in a drunken arson attack on the Queensway Park Farm-based centre.

Sanctuary chairman Mandy Leigh said funding for the plans was still to be found, but said it was hoped the council would back her ideas to further boost the centre.

She added: “It would be nice to get the dogs out of the big barn to give the cats and horses a bit of peace and quiet.

“At the moment, we have around 40 dogs on a waiting list to come to the centre, while we’ve had to stop taking cats as we are so oversubscribed.

“It would be a tremendous boost if the plans were approved.”

In the early hours of March 23, 2011, two men, Karl Heaton, then aged 23, of Smithy Lane, Ansdell, and 19-year-old Jordan Morgan, of no fixed address, embarked on a drunken arson spree in St Annes, setting fire to a garage causing about £20,000 of damage, a fire inside a van, causing about £500 of damage and another at Fylde Scout HQ, causing about £40,000 of damage. Both men were jailed for three years.

Their fourth attack was found later in the morning when staff arrived at the animal sanctuary.

The pair had started a blaze in a hay stall, which spread through an outbuilding, killing 25 animals, including hens, cats and a rabbit.

Mrs Leigh revealed the fire had had a huge effect on the centre, but it was now beginning to find its feet again.

She added: “It never seemed to pick up after the fire and a lot of people thought we hadn’t opened up again.

“It has been a struggle but what can you do if you don’t take people’s dogs? They’re going to get put to sleep.

“We have never been close to closing but plan to expand to make more room.

“My dream would be to have stray kennels, that would be lovely if we could build those, but we just have to keep our fingers crossed that we can do that.”

Fylde Council’s development management committee is expected to make a decision on the site in the coming months.

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