Big breeds in need, like abandoned Saint Bernards, have a champion in the Grundy's, a British couple dedicated to saving the largest breeds

Simon Grundy is not just a big dog lover – he’s also a lover of big dogs. Very big ones. Grundy is a commercial underwriter with The Cumberland but much of his spare time is dedicated to a charity rescuing giant-breed dogs from around the world and finding them loving homes in the UK.

Grundy is trustee and treasurer of Saving Saints Rescue, and his wife Rachel is a trustee and chair. The charity specialises in helping dogs like St. Bernards, Newfoundlands and Romanian Shepherds. In some cases, owners simply can’t keep them, but many have been neglected, abused, or left in ‘kill shelters’ and some come from the Chinese meat trade.

Last year Saving Saints rescued 147 dogs from around the world and within the UK. “We have an extensive network abroad," says Grundy. "We have several people in Eastern Europe who refer dogs to us directly.

“In places like Romania, Poland, and Serbia people tend to have large breed dogs and use them to guard their houses and the animals on their farms because there are predators like wolves and lynx.

“If they are no longer wanted, there is no rescue system there so if you don’t want a dog you take it to the local kill shelter.

“Our volunteers will rescue the dogs from the shelter and ask if we can take them and board them and fund the costs of transporting them to the UK.

“Their work is completely voluntary. We have contacts all over the world, across mainland Europe, many from Eastern Europe, Egypt, and China.”

The charity has eight volunteers in the UK and rescued dogs are first housed in kennels in Skegness where they are assessed before rehoming.

“It is very upsetting when you see the condition some of them are in,” says Grundy, who lives in Chorley. “At the end of the day the thing that motivates you is seeing when new owners come back with a lot of lovely photos showing the dog running round the garden with their children.

“There is the odd one or two that don’t work out. Sometimes people realise it just isn’t for them.”

Simon and Rachel’s own four St Bernard’s are all rescued from Europe and the UK. “We actually run the charity on a shoestring – £25,000 per year. We take nothing out of it. We pay for kennel fees and transporting dogs from abroad,” says Grundy.

“Working with the charity gives me a sense of satisfaction, and that I’m giving something back to the community.”

* Saving Saints are always looking for new fosters. They must be dog experienced and have no children at home under 14.