FEWER people have shown their devotion to our four-legged friends than Dougie O’Neill.

In 1991, The Mail heard from Dougie as he championed the cause of abandoned dogs at Barrow Dog Shelter, despite remembering that Christmas was often one of the busiest times of the year for him.

The shelter said in the run up to Christmas that year that dogs were often given as unwanted gifts and ended up in council kennels soon after.

Dougie said this was because members of the public often underestimate the responsibility required to take care of a dog.

But following a campaign to encourage the people of Barrow to think carefully before purchasing a pet, he said:“It’s definitely an improvement on other years, the best year we’ve had.

“Usually we expect to see some. We’ve had pups found in gutters and all sorts. Perhaps people are getting the message.”

Ten dogs had arrived in Walney that Christmas, but luckily there was plenty of room at the Barrow shelter, under Dougie’s care.

Talking about their arrival, Dougie said:“This week’s been like the January sales. We’ve had six taken off our hands yesterday alone.”

The previous year, The Mail reported the shelter also took in a frightened little stray which had been running around the West Shore Park in Walney.

Dougie was able to find a home for the stray dog soon after, much to the delight of the residents.

In that same year, a local resident was tailed by a mysterious white collier cross dog.

Dougie arrived at the scene of the found collie soon after it was reported.

“If the lady has a dog at home, which is in season, the stray dog may have latched onto the scent and begun following her because of that.”

In 1989, the Mail reported how Doug had taken in more than 137 dogs in his shelter over that year.

With many years being busier than others for arrivals, Dougie said he was always there to try and help the influx of dogs with nowhere else to go.