AS fundraising efforts kick off for the development of a new Clare County dog shelter, warden Frankie Coote has described the Christmas period as one of his busiest yet.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, local organisation Rover Rescue, led by dog trainer and groomer Deirdre Ryan, sent a number of dogs from the county pound to be re-homed in Wales, with more dogs set to leave the country in the coming weeks. Deirdre, who has helped nearly 500 dogs find new homes in the past three years, hopes a recent grant of funding will mean even more dogs can be helped in the future.
According to Mr Coote, “Christmas was one of our busiest, we worked every day over the Christmas and the figures are up. What we have noticed is that people are not in a financial position now to keep their dogs and they’re ringing us to come and take them. As bad as that is, it’s much better than people abandoning them.”
He said he came across a number of dogs coming under the Dangerous Dogs Act that were abandoned. “It’s a pity because if anybody has a dog in the county and they are not able to look after it, or if they find they are turning dangerous, we’re only a phonecall away.”
Five jack russells were found in Ennis and efforts made to find their owners, including putting them on Facebook, proved unsuccessful. Fortunately, these dogs have since been rehomed.
Mr Coote was also called to help a greyhound weighing only 20% of its normal body weight and a west highland terrier “in dire straights”.
“We’ve had a few very bad cases but we can only do our best. We have great volunteers, like Deirdre Ryan, who are helping to rehome lots of dogs.
“There were over 600 dogs last year that left the pound alive, between being rehomed and reclaimed. That’s a record for us and we’re delighted. But we could do a lot more if we had more help and support.”
Speaking about the campaign to fundraise for a new pound, which began at the weekend with Ireland’s first Christmas Tree Throwing Championships in Ennis, he said, “When we opened in 1986 we were one of the top places in Ireland but it’s gone downhill now. We are the busiest dog home in Ireland, we have the highest records of any dog pound in Ireland, ever. A new facility would be fantastic.”
Deirdre has been working with the county pound to bring abandoned dogs to new owners in Wales for the past three years. According to Mr Coote, “We are delighted to see these dogs go to new homes.”
The scheme, run in conjunction with the UK’s Many Tears Pet Rescue charity, sees them come to Clare regularly to take dogs Deirdre has rescued from the pound.
Before giving them to Many Tears, which has a strict no-kill policy, Deirdre looks after the dogs herself in her home for a few weeks. She makes sure the dogs are vaccinated, neutered, spayed and microchipped, as well as doing some basic training.
She recently received a grant of €3,000 from the Department of Agriculture, which she intends to use to build new kennels for the dogs.
Deidre said, “I’ve had a lot of support with Rover Rescue, from Frankie, many different organisations, Francis Murphy of Second Chance Animal Rescue, and the recent grant from the Department, which is fantastic. I am hoping to be able to put a few proper kennels in because at the moment the dogs are in my garden during the day and in an area of the parlour at night. That means moving them around twice a day, so the kennels would provide for better facilities.
“From a financial point of view, I’ve been very lucky with the support I’ve got from people. Having the kennels would make it easier for me to take in more dogs, as Frankie would say himself, I never say no. It means I can separate dogs if I have to, for instance if there is one difficult dog, I don’t have to say I can’t take him, I can separate him and do a bit of training.”
In two weeks’ time Deirdre is expecting another dozen dogs to be brought over to Wales. “The dogs can be of all types, everything and anything. There’s every type of dog and 99% of them are smashing, they really are.”
According to Deirdre, the UK charity, like many others, is feeling financial strain, yet they continue to be devoted to helping Clare dogs.
“They are very busy over there and it is a strain for them to come over here and pick up these dogs but they really have a lot of love for the Irish and for the plight over here, with the amount of dogs that are in pounds. It’s certainly not a case that they are making money from these dogs, they put a lot of time and investment when they get them over there. They often take on dogs with behavioural problems that might have been put to sleep over here but they have a great network of fosterers over there. They take on dogs where in a lot of cases they had nowhere to go; it’s not just the nice dogs. They really are fantastic and they are feeling the strain this winter as well but they are very devoted to helping out myself and Frankie and other rescues around the area. We’d be lost without them.”
While the pound has rehomed a number of dogs over the Christmas, Deirdre believes that by February there may be even more dogs in need of help.
“In February, we have the usual routine of people getting pups for Christmas and then getting sick of them. Also, while dogs are being rehomed from the pound, I hope that the people who take the dogs from there realise the responsibility they have; to keep the dogs in, under control, safe, loved, exercised and warm. What frustrates me most is people taking on a dog and at the first sign of trouble the dog is given away, rather than doing a little bit of training and putting a bit of time and investment in a dog. They give you a lot of love and attention but you have to understand that dogs have needs.”
Deidre has appealed for more people to get involved in fostering dogs and anybody interested can contact her on 065 6848684.