A dog that survived for days alone in a Plymouth flat after its owner died is now looking for a new home.
Nine-year-old Springer Spaniel Marley was discovered by police this summer and taken to Woodside Animal Welfare Trust.
He initially arrived traumatised and too frightened to go for a walk or meet other dogs.However, the spaniel has quickly grown in confidence thanks to trust's new animal mental health programme.
The assistant manager of Woodside Animal Welfare Trust, Dawn Cornish, said: “Marley’s owner wasn’t found for days, so Marley was alone in the flat with him before police visited.
“His owner struggled with severe mental health problems, so poor Marley has really suffered both from watching his owner struggle and then grieving for him.
“The importance of mental health is becoming much more talked about, and there has certainly been a push in awareness of how mental health affects each and every one of us.
"This is true for animals as well as people.”
The Mental Health and Enrichment Sponsorship scheme helps animals who come to the shelter, many of whom have had traumatic lives.
Dawn added: “When it comes to our young cats and dogs, we know that being in a pen can bring boredom, which then hugely impacts on their mental health. We have a number of strategies to help combat this, and we are always looking for new ideas.”
When Marley first arrived at the shelter, he was overweight, with a lump that needed veterinary treatment and was too scared to eat from a bowl.
However, the staff slowly began to feed and medicate Marley and introduced him to the dogs at the shelter, and he is now, Dawn says, a “completely different dog to the one that arrived at Woodside."
The sponsorship programme costs £10 a month, which funds the support of up to 19 animals, including cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens and livestock, by using one-to-one contact, toys and activities.