Great North Run: Runner ‘gives back’ to vet charity who saved dog’s life

01 September 2023

A budding runner is going the extra mile at next week’s Great North Run to say thank you to a leading vet charity after they saved her dog’s life when she was hit by a car.

Joanna Donachie is running the 13.1 mile challenge from Newcastle to South Shields for PDSA who performed life-saving surgery on her Border Collie, Dolly, two years ago.

The 26-year-old who lives in County Durham explained: “One morning, a woman knocked on the door quite upset. She said she’d hit our dog when she ran out into the middle of the road.

“We didn’t even notice Dolly had escaped. We think she must have snuck past us as we were bringing the shopping in – it all happened so quick.

“I immediately rang PDSA who said to bring her in. I was petrified the only option was going to be to put her to sleep, as she was 12-years-old at the time, and I thought they wouldn’t bother trying to save her.

“I was so wrong. The team at Sunderland PDSA Pet Hospital did everything they could for Dolly but unfortunately her injuries were too severe and her back leg had to be amputated. She stayed in overnight but within a week or so she was back to her normal self!

“Thankfully, losing her leg hasn’t impacted Dolly at all, and the treatment saved her life, which was all I could have hoped for.”

Joanna, who works at Northern Gas and Power, lives in Seaham with Dolly, who is now 13.

“I decided to sign up to the Great North Run as a way of saying thank you to PDSA and showing my gratitude to the vet teams that saved our Dolly,” she added.

“I’ve never done a run like this before, and I only started training earlier this year. But it’s not about times or anything; it’s just about crossing the finishing line and raising as much money as I can for PDSA.”

Amy Wareing-Reid, fundraising manager at PDSA, said: “We’re all so thankful to Joanna for choosing to run for PDSA at this year’s Great North Run. Her generous fundraising efforts will enable us to continue our life-saving work, treating pets whose owners have nowhere else to turn. It is thanks to the incredible support of kind-hearted people like Joanna that we are able to provide vital treatment for poorly animals and make a real difference to their owners.”

To find out more about PDSA, or sign up to a fundraising challenge, visit

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