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How rescue dog Beautie inspired Lisette to start DoggyWarriors and help thousands of dogs in need

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Scrolling through Facebook, Lisette Van Riel’s heart melted at the sight of a sad looking rescue dog sat in a crate at the vets.

She turned to her husband Dan, “She’s Beautie, and she keeps being taken back to the shelter. Can we foster her, just for a few days?” 

A few days turned into forever, with Lisette bringing the young dog who’d lost her leg in a road accident back to West Yorkshire from Dubai where they’d met.

After researching the challenges faced by rescue dogs, Lisette wanted to make a difference, and in the 2020 lockdown, she started a not-for-profit to help.

Fast forward nearly three years and Beautie and her devoted owner Lisette have raised over £75,000 for rescue dogs.

Small rehoming shelters across the UK have benefited from her fundraising via her DoggyLottery and DoggyWarrior campaigns.

To date (January 2023), Lisette’s work has impacted a TENTH of the 800 rescue centres. 

Dogs have had lifesaving surgery and centres who rely entirely on the kindness of volunteers and donations have been given a much needed lifeline.

Lisette shares her heartwarming story of how her adorable girl Beautie changed her life and those of hundreds of dogs in need.

Lisette and Beautie in Dubai in May 2014 when they first met

Hi Lisette! Tell us about you and your inspiration for DoggyLottery and DoggyWarriors

I’m originally from Holland, but several years ago I was living in Dubai. 

At the time I was volunteering for a dog rescue centre and met Beautie at an adoption day.

Despite having only three legs, she was the happiest dog I’d ever seen and she was looking for her forever home.

I connected with her immediately, but I was living in a flat on the 16th floor and decided it was not the right environment for a dog.

Fate has a way of turning our lives in a direction we never anticipated, and a few weeks later I came across a post on Facebook about Beautie being stuck in a crate at a vets because no one would foster her.

Beautie on the beach in Dubai
Lisette and Beautie in their old apartment in Dubai

My husband and I decided to foster her, only intending to keep her for a week or two, but fell in love immediately!

Fate came again a couple weeks later when my father died. I’d only just met her, but Beautie got me through one of the toughest times in my life. 

She kept me in my routine, would lick away my tears, and just lie with me.

From that moment I committed myself to help dogs just like Beautie. 

I didn’t know how and I didn’t know what I’d do, but I would repay her for everything she’d done for me.

So how did DoggyWarriors begin?

It started in lockdown. I’d been in the UK for about three years when I lost my job in 2020 due to COVID. 

This was my chance to make good on the promise I’d made to Beautie. I had an opportunity to find a way to help more rescue dogs.

I started doing research on UK rescue centres to get an understanding on the homeless dog situation.

Around 130,000 dogs get abandoned each year and we have 800 rescue centres.

Most run entirely thanks to the kindness of volunteers and many are struggling to keep their doors open. They’re all in desperate need of financial assistance.

I decided the way to make the biggest impact would be with a rotating charity lottery. 

Each month, five charities split that month’s donations. The charities rotate so we can help as many as possible, really making a difference in the smaller centres.

Within a year, we raised over £25K for 65 different rescue centres.

I wanted to find another way to help so I started DoggyWarriors. It’s a community of dog lovers committed to standing up for dogs and raising money to assist DoggyLottery.

What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome?

Like any new business, we didn’t have a reputation when we started.

On top of that, we were a charitable organisation fundraising for other charitable organisations and they were very skeptical of our intentions.

If things were normal, I could have just popped in to the rescue centres to chat and let them get to know me and build that trusting relationship. 

But because of COVID, I had to rely on phone calls and Zoom meetings.

I also knew I needed to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. 

These centres don’t have loads of free time to commit to yet another fundraiser, so we make it simple. 

We set up processes for them, like creating their social media posts and text, to eliminate additional workload.

I knew if I could just get the first five on board, I could prove that our system works and we would be able to get more to join us. 

Luckily, they helped promote us in finding our next five partners and so on.

There have been many hurdles to jump over. Even getting a bank account was a struggle! But we haven’t let them stop us and we are just getting started.

Back in the UK at the beginning of the DoggyLottery journey (Image © Rowan Williams

Is it easier now you’re more well known? 

Absolutely. It took some time to get established as a reputable lottery, but now we have a waiting list of rescue centres wanting to partner with us and a full 2023 calendar!

It is so important as a new business to surround yourself with the right people–people who will cheer you on, push you out of your comfort zone, and truly want to see you succeed.

We believed in ourselves, put our heads down, and got to work. We’ve been able to build our reputation on the fact that what we are doing is making a real difference.

We’ve been able to partner with different events, help run charity lotteries for other people, and even win awards.

It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where we are, but it is paying off.

Lisette, her husband Dan and Beautie (Image © Rowan Williams

How much have you raised to date?

As of December 2022, we’ve hit £75k raised for over 80 different charities and rescue centres.

We’ve extremely proud to support 10 per cent of the centres in the country!

Can you share a memorable moment? 

My favourite story is from Paws To Rescue. We were helping raise funds for an operation that one of their rescue dogs needed. Like Beautie, this dog needed an amputation.

Because we helped fund the operation, they gave us the honour of naming the dog so we called him Lotto. 

His story, and the funds going towards essential surgery, is what our work is all about.

Proud dog mum Lisette and her gorgeous girl (Image © Rowan Williams

Thank you so much, Lisette, how can dog lovers support you?

There are three ways to get involved in the DoggyWarriors community!

Join the DoggyLottery

Subscribe to DoggyLottery for just £1.50 per week. There’s no commitment and you can unsubscribe at any time! 

Check out our products

Buying something from the online shop on our website is a great way to help! We have loads of great products to choose from and 10% of every purchase goes to dogs in need.

Sign up for our Newsletter

When you join our mailing list, you’ll get the latest news and updates from DoggyWarriors.

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Lisette’s professional photos are by Rowan Williams

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