A nine-year-old boy has gone without Christmas presents this year – and asked Santa for donations to Manchester dog shelter instead.
Mum Sarah Ferris was shocked when her kind-hearted son Mikey made the request a few weeks ago.
He has always loved animals, having grown up with pet rabbits, and has an affinity for canine companions.
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Sarah, of Tyldesley, Wigan, told the Manchester Evening News : “I’ve always grown up around animals and so has Mikey, but he loves them the most.
“Whenever he’s sad, he will ask to go to his grandma’s house so he can see their dog.
“It always makes him feel better – dogs have a way of comforting him.
“But I was surprised when he wanted to donate to a dog shelter for Christmas.
“When he went to see Santa, he asked for pet food to donate and told him all about his plans.
“Father Christmas seemed surprised as kids don’t usually ask for that sort of thing.
“I’m very proud of him and I’m so lucky to have him.”
Mikey filmed a short video asking his family and friends to send him donations for Christmas.
Sarah shared it on Facebook and they received donations of dog food, treats, blankets and a bed.
The care worker helped to give Mikey an overview of the dog charities in the region and he chose Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home.
She told of how proud Mikey was to make the donation.
“He said he wanted to make a difference to the dogs who won’t have anything to wake up to on Christmas day.
“Mikey was so proud to take the donation over and to do it for the dogs.”
Mikey added: “I did it because I love animals and I had thought about [donating] a few weeks ago.
“I wanted to bring some goodness into the world.
“I love dogs and the best thing about them is the love they give.”
Steve Mapley, centre manager at the Dogs’ Home, said: “It was lovely to hear about Mikey and his wish to help the dogs, its amazing that a young man is so thoughtful to put others and dogs before himself at this time of year.
“We always try to give each of the dogs a Christmas present, so this [donation] means that we can make sure they all get something.”
On Christmas day, Steve gives all the dogs a Christmas gift along with their Christmas dinner – this year they’re being treated to chicken, vegetables and the trimmings.
The centre is currently looking after around 60 dogs which Steve notes is ‘fairly quiet’ compared to pre-pandemic figures.
It’s been another challenging year at the Dogs’ Home, with the continuing pandemic putting a stop to usual fundraising efforts.
Steve said: “Fundraising as it was, has pretty much stopped. We have not been able to get out and about in the community the way we used to for two years now.”
Despite this, Steve told us this year has been better than the last, with the centre adapting their adoption process, allowing dogs to be rehomed faster.
But the home has seen a significant increase in the number of young dogs being given up by members of the public.
Steve explained: “A lot of these dogs are used to being with people. Some were taken in during lock down and so have never been left on their own.
“When people had to start returning to the office, they realise how much of a commitment a dog can be. Finding a balance between full time work and having a dog full time – and the demands a dog puts on you – can be difficult.”
But donations like those from Mikey can make all the difference.
The Dogs’ Home accept donations of cash, blankets (not duvets or pillows) and food.
People can donate by calling the home on 0300 102 1212 and arranging to come down and drop off. Donations can also be made at the receptions or over the phone.