The Watford branch of an animal rescue and rehoming charity has been hit hard by the pandemic and is seeking help to pay for a much-needed new kennel block.

The National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) centre lost at least £40,000 last year due to the Covid-19 crisis and was forced to close to the public in the first lockdown. It also had to cancel the fundraising events it relies on to cover its running costs in 2020.

Despite its forced closure, the NAWT is ineligible for any government or local authority support. And 11 months on, it is still not permitted to reopen. The Watford community has been very supportive but the NAWT has had to dig into its reserves to keep going.

Thanks to the public’s generosity, the charity has been able to continue its rescue and rehoming activity. It has not turned any animals away and continues to look after all the dogs, cats and rabbits in its care.

The NAWT has done everything it can to keep costs to a minimum. One-third of its staff are on furlough to save money and the charity didn’t replace six members of staff who left last year.

Nonetheless, it has had to postpone projects such as building new, much-needed admission kennels. This is where new arrivals are quarantined from the rest of the resident animals until the NAWT team can fully assess the dog’s welfare needs and ensure they’re not carrying any diseases that could be passed to the other animals.

Watford Observer:

The current admission kennels for new arrivals are in a sorry state. The NAWT has started a JustGiving campaign to replace them

Having housed thousands of new arrivals over the years, the current kennels are really showing their age and the charity has set up a JustGiving page to fundraise for their replacement.

Jackie de Friez, manager of the NAWT Watford, said: “The first few days in a rescue centre are quite overwhelming for most dogs as they start to adapt to life in a new environment. Because some of the building is now beyond repair, we’d like to build 12 new kennels plus training and exercise areas for the new arrivals, meaning more unwanted dogs can be helped to find new loving homes.”

Watford Observer:

Another view showing the condition of the kennels

Fortunately, fewer animals are coming into the rescue centre. During lockdown the demand for pets has increased and owners are selling them instead of giving them to a rescue centre.

However, Jackie said: “Those animals that are coming in have costly medical or behavioural needs. We need support for the work we do now more than ever.”

For further information on the NAWT Watford or to rehome an animal, visit, call 0208 950 0177 (option 2) or email