A SOMERSET volunteer has been hailed for her help in saving more than 900 dogs from starving on the streets.

Shelly Ricketts is currently working overseas in Morocco, where she has been part of a massive effort to rscue hundreds of dogs suffering from extreme starvation.

She has been working with Sunshine Animal Refuge Agadir (SARA), which was set up in 2018 Michele Augsburger.

After years working abroad, Michele retired and returned to the city of her birth in 2007.

Saddened to see so many stray animals, she launched the animal refuge on her small farm outside Agadir, in Morocco.

SARA was behind a successful neutering programme in 2017/18, and sudden pressure to remove all the stray dogs and cats from Agadir’s streets saw hundreds placed in the local pound.

They were without access to food and basic medicine, and disturbing videos shared on social media showed the helpless animals resorting to eating the corpses of starved dogs.

SARA, along with the help of British volunteers, Shelly Ricketts and Hazel Skeet, rescued 900 dogs from certain death, and have since expanded operations to house 1,200 animals across three locations.

Volunteer Shelly, who is from Yeovil, said: “The achievements of Michele are absolutely incredible. To see the rescued dogs go from complete suffering, to having space to roam and access to care and medicine is absolutely incredible.

“We can’t thank the public enough for the donations they have made.

“SARA has achieved so much in such a short space of time, and it’s incredibly important that we keep this momentum going. To house so many animals costs £20,000 each month, and we do not receive nearly enough donations to keep the refuges running.”

At the moment, SARA is running on rented land, but they hope with more donations the team will be able to purchase land and build a refuge of their own.

Founder, Michele Augsburger said: “This will allow us to ensure that every animal, be it a donkey, cat, or dog that steps into SARA will have access to food, water, shelter, medicine and care.

“Our dream is for them all to be adopted. They are just incredible. Many of our dogs and cats have been adopted abroad with great success.

“We are so incredibly grateful that we’ve been able to save so many dogs, neuter and vaccinate them, and keep them safe.

“I really can’t thank our volunteers and the public enough for their donations of time and money. We have applied to many NGOs for assistance, the worldwide leaders in animal welfare, and are still waiting.

“Morocco must implement nationwide Trap Neuter Vaccinate Release. This is our hope, our dream. In the meantime, we help as many animals as we can.”

To donate to SARA, visit saramorocco.com/donate, and to adopt, go to saramorocco.com/adopt.