SCHNAUZEREST - AN INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDER JANETTA HARVEY
LET ME INTRODUCE JANETTA HARVEY
Photo Credit: Janetta Harvey
I am an author and founder of the charity Schnauzerfest. I write about, and campaign against the exploitative commercial dog breeding industry, commonly referred to as puppy farming. I’ve written several books, maintain a blog and regularly contribute to publications in an effort to continue raising awareness of an industry that wrecks dogs lives.
I now live with my husband in south-west France, having travelled regularly between the UK and France for 2 decades. Wherever we are, our dogs are too: Renae, Cerise, Albert Claude and Angel, 4 miniature schnauzers, 4 very different characters.
Cerise, Angel and Albert Claude are survivors of the brutal puppy breeding industry. Our first ex-breeding dog, Susie-Belle was, and remains the inspiration for my books, writing and Schnauzerfest. She died in November 2015 after being with us for four years. We sadly lost her sister Twinkle, also a puppy farm survivor in July 2019.
WHAT IS SCHNAUZERFEST?
Schnauzerfest is a registered grant giving charity which pays for the veterinary treatment for rescue dogs, mainly but not exclusively schnauzers. We’re a young charity, gaining official registration in October 2019 although we began as a fundraising entity in 2014. Schnauzerfest is solely reliant on donations and fundraising.
Everyone involved in the work of Schnauzerfest is wildly enthusiastic about everything that is done for it by our brilliant community of supporters. From our roots in fundraising dog walks, today many different sorts of activities are undertaken by supporters. It’s great fun to see the evolution of Schnauzerfest and to know that so many people care to get involved and make a positive difference in the world.
HOW DID SCHNAUZERFEST BEGIN?
In 2014 I started Schnauzerfest as a simple fundraiser. It was based on friends organising dog walks amongst themselves and collecting donations. Every year the Schnauzerfest community grew, more people became interested in fundraising under the Schnauzerfest banner. Our iconic orange theme grabbed both attention and imaginations on social media and when people were out walking with their dogs.
Susie-Belle, the inspiration behind Schnauzerfest
Photo Credit: Janetta Harvey
We gathered a tremendous amount of support not just within the schnauzer owning community but from other dog lovers who joined the walks and other fundraising events we ran and promoted on social media. In 2019, before it became a charity, Schnauzerfest appeared on ITV’s Britain’s Top 100 Dogs for our work highlighting the problems of puppy farming and the need to support good rescue work.
HOW DO YOU HELP RESCUE SCHNAUZERS?
Schnauzerfest pays veterinary bills for rescue dogs. This is what the charity was set up to do and it is the focus we maintain. However, it has always been important to me and the Trustees that not only do we pay for veterinary care we also bring attention to the reasons why dogs are in rescue. In other words, why the need for our charity exists. Educating people about puppy farming in all its guises, how to source dogs well and avoid falling into the many traps there are today is a central part of Schnauzerfest’s work. The charity has a strong educational purpose which is enshrined in its constitution.
Nova, a puppy farm rescue alongside her sister Sally, now living her best life in beautiful Devon.
Day to day, Schnauzerfest is active in the world of rescue offering and giving financial support for veterinary bills. Sometimes we are approached by rescues, and other times we reach out to organisations which we know are helping schnauzers.
We’re diligent about ensuring that our mission is communicated clearly to all organisations and individuals. Our donors can always be sure that their donations are spent well. They also deserve to know that that those receiving Schnauzerfest Grants appreciate what their support brings. Schnauzerfest has the best possible supporters a charity could wish for and we honour their generosity to the charity by seeking to help as many dogs as we can through our network.
As well as the payment of veterinary bills, a lesser known strand of work that Schnauzerfest does, is facilitating rehoming of schnauzers. While not being a rehoming organisation, as members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes we have access to an extensive network of rescue organisations of all sizes and set up, right across the British Isles. It’s a sign of the times we are in ‘post pandemic puppies’ that every week the number of requests to help this way increases. We’re pleased that we have been able to recently recruit a dedicated volunteer who is helping with this aspect of the charity’s work.
DO YOU ONLY SUPPORT PUPPY FARMED SCHNAUZERS?
No. Some of the dogs come into rescue due to changes in family circumstances, some where owners have died or a myriad of other reasons. A number of the dogs which have had veterinary treatment funded by a Schnauzerfest Grant have been strays found in dreadful states of neglect.
HOW CAN WE GET INVOLVED?
There are lots of things people can do to help Schnauzerfest. As a charity which is paying veterinary bills every month, all year round involvement is greatly appreciated. For example, we have donors making regular monthly gifts which is brilliant for our planning. It allows us to make swift decisions on cases. It’s particularly rewarding as a young charity to have people’s trust in us like this, it’s truly humbling.
October is the traditional month that Schnauzerfest is most active as that was when our iconic weekend of walks was held, pre-COVID. This year we have a brand new event taking place, a hybrid one that will run throughout October. As a hybrid it can be done in person, or singly, quietly at home. More details on that below!
Walks remain at the heart of Schnauzerfest but due to COVID and the requirements all organisations now face when putting any event on, we are doing things differently. Plus, the risks of dog theft when gathering, and publicising walks have brought us to a new way.
Dogs turn out to walk for Schnauzerfest every October no matter the weather. It's an acknowledgment that some dogs are confined to a life in a cage.
So individuals are organising walks among friends and their own networks, which is really Schnauzerfest going right back to its simplest and original roots. It’s great hearing people’s plans and if supporters wish us to, we're sending details of walks out to those on our mailing list and to inquirers. The same model will be in place for our Schnauzerfestive Season which runs in December.
As well as this, there are ways people can support the charity which don’t cost them a penny - these I particularly love! Signing up for Amazon Smile, and Easyfundraising for example, both schemes bring significant funds to the charity by people doing their usual shopping which brings a donation. It really is a simple, effective way to get involved as an individual.
Other no-cost ways to help are just to talk about our work. Share our posts on social media, tweet about the dogs we help. Being sociable on behalf of Schnauzerfest and you really are making a difference!
We have a whole section on the website of other ways, such as recycling ink cartridges, selling on eBay, plus plenty of other ideas. Whatever anyone does for the charity is 100% appreciated.
WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE?
Our website has tonnes of information. We regularly update it. We love showing supporters what a difference they make to the dogs which are helped every month by the charity. Many of the dogs’ stories are on the website.
Plus plenty of suggestions for ways to help and get involved.
If anyone is thinking about getting involved with a fundraiser we LOVE hearing about everything people do to support Schnauzerfest. Our inbox is a busy place most days and there is nothing better to me than receiving messages from people who care to make something good happen for the dogs.
For further information on Schnauzerfest and how to support the charity, take a look at the website: www.schnauzerfest.org
If you want to get your orange on and help raise awareness, do check out our exclusive Schnauzerfest Charity Collection