A COUNTY Durham animal sanctuary has reached crisis point after being inundated with requests to take unwanted pets.

Pat Kingsnorth, who runs the Ark on the Edge centre, at Woodland in Teesdale, says the complex is full to bursting point as animal lovers find it increasingly difficult to cover the costs of their pets.

“We are jam-packed full. We have more than 100 animals here, from a six-month-old degu (a type of rodent) to two big horses, each 16-plus hands,” she said.

The ongoing economic situation is to blame, according to Ms Kingsnorth, and while there is huge demand for places at the Ark, raising the estimated £48,000-a-year it costs to run the complex is becoming increasingly difficult.

She said: “Top of the list at the moment are people having to move into rented accommodation where landlords will not let them take pets. “All the rescue centres are in the same boat – it's just absolutely awful. Any charity will tell you the last two years have been really bad for donations – it's just the way it is.”

Ark on the Edge operates a no-kill policy and does not accept dogs. There is a long waiting list of pets – especially cats and kittens - whose owners want them to be rehomed through the Ark.

One horse – a 15-year-old Skewbald called CJ – has spent his entire life at the sanctuary and as he suffers from allergies needs medication specially imported from the USA.

Details of the animals waiting for a new home are posted on the Ark's website – www.arkontheedge.org.uk – and highlighted on the charity's Facebook page.