Desperate woman launches appeal to fly herself and her SEVEN rescue dogs back home to Milton Keynes

Lesley is stuck in Cyprus, where she saved the dogs

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 5:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 5:50 pm

A woman has launched a desperate fundraising appeal to cover the cost of flying herself and her seven rescue dogs back to MK.

Lesley Spence, 54, rented out her house in Bradwell in 2016 to move to Cyprus with her fiancé.

She became involved in animal rescue on the island and has saved more than 200 stray and abused dogs, which she managed to rehome throughout Europe.

Lesley with two of her 'babies'

But disaster struck early last year her fiancé was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.

"We decided he would be better off returning to the UK for his medical treatment. I said goodbye to him at the airport on my birthday in February 2020," said Lesley.

"He passed in November 2020 after a short, harsh battle, I hadn't seen him for nine months. Due to Covid travel restrictions, I could not be with him, I couldn't even attend his funeral. He was our breadwinner, the love of my life and my rock."

Grieving Lesley threw herself into taking over the running of a failing animal centre on the island with her daughter.

The seven dogs need to be flown home with Lesley

"We worked tirelessly for 13 hours a day, seven days a week to get 72 dogs fit healthy and rehomed. It took six months, but we did it," she said.

She was left with seven dogs that nobody wanted, and these have become her "babies", she said.

But now her 93-year-old father in the UK is becoming more and more frail and her mum, who is 83, has dementia.

"I've decided enough was enough and want to return to the UK. I have to be close to my parents before age and ill health takes them away from me. I will never recover if I never see them again," she said.

Lesley enjoys a cuddle with one of her dogs

Covid restrictions mean the only way to travel off the island is by air - and the cost of flying Lesley, her daughter and the seven dogs is a whopping £4,500.

Lesley was hoping to sell her house in Milton Keynes to raise cash but faces a battle through the courts to get her tenant to leave.

She claims the tenant was advised by council housing officials to ignore the Section 21 notice Lesley served her with.

The council says this is in line with advice given by the homeless prevention charity Shelter and also their commitment to tackling homelessness in MK

One of the seven dogs that nobody wanted

An MK Council spokesman said: "The council always advises tenants of their legal rights to remain in the property when faced with an eviction notice from a private landlord. The law entitles tenants extra time to find new accommodation."

Lesley said: "My last avenue of hope was to sell my house, buy a cheaper one and use the equity to get a home. I have explored equity purchase schemes and house buying schemes but these schemes all want at least £45,000 of the house value for fees with a sitting tenant...Being mugged in the street would be cheaper."

She added: "I cannot afford to travel back to the UK. I also have the problem that with seven dogs, I cannot get a rental property.

"British High Commission will not help me unless I leave my dogs behind. I will not do this, my dogs are family, my babies."

The fundraising page, which so far has raised £950, can be viewed here.

It has been set up with a £5,500 target to transport the two adults and the dogs back to the UK and pay for somewhere for them to live temporarily in MK during the court process.

Another of the dogs that will be flown home

"Then I can pick up the pieces of my life and start again," said Lesley.

"Life has been very tough this last two years and I need to go home. Please help us if you can."