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Martina Flaherty of Baby Dog Rescue and Sam Cleary of Ennis Dog Pound with some of their rescued friends. Photograph by John Kelly.

And they call it puppy love

AN ENNIS woman with an incurable case of ‘puppy love’ is at the centre of an incredible tale of devotion and care for sick and abandoned dogs.

Martina Flaherty, from Westbourne, loves all breeds of puppies and dogs and has saved more than 130 lives since she set up Babydog Rescue with her friend, Mags Mooney from Lisdoonvarna, earlier this year.

Dog warden, Frankie Coote can’t praise Martina enough. “Martina’s work is essential because she has about 130 dogs taken from the pound since she started Babydog Rescue earlier this year. It’s a huge amount of dogs. She has a wonderful way of dealing with people and other rescue groups.

“Martina and Mags Mooney fundraise and I think they have over 60 pups inoculated with the seven-in-one injections that have gone out to homes in Clare as well,” Frankie said.

Frankie Coote Dog Warden at Animal Shelter“There’s a lot of work goes into it and a lot of expenses before the dog goes out. They’ve fundraised for equipment and food for the pound. I deal with a lot of different welfare groups and Martina has a wonderful, ladylike way about her and has them all working with her. They’re all helping her,” he added.

“It’s a pleasure. I enjoy it. I enjoy the company. I just love puppies and I love to see them going to new homes. They come to me in very bad shape and then you are delighted to see them when they’re going. You’d be getting pictures back a couple of years later from their new families. They keep in touch with me,” Martina said.

“I work with the pound. I take all puppies that are found and not re-homed from the pound and ones that need a lot of care, including veterinary care, until they can be re-homed or go to another rescue service.”

Babydog Rescue – called after Martina’s own tiny Chihuahua, Babydog – sends eight to 10 dogs to the Dogs Trust in the UK every three to four weeks, where there’s a waiting list for dogs. These are mostly terriers that have no chance of being re-homed from the pound.

“They also send one Staffie a month to Sweden, while retrievers and retriever cross-breeds go to Black Retriever Cross Rescue in the UK and Golden Retrievers go to Irish Retriever Rescue, while German Shepherds are sent to two specific breed rescue services, one in the UK and one in the north of Ireland.

The puppies and dogs sent abroad have to have a passport and they have to stay with Martina or in foster homes, and occasionally in kennels, until their passports are ready – it usually takes 21 days – and there they are inoculated and made ready for their new homes.

Martina herself is very appreciative of the help she gets to do her work.

“Summerhill Vets are our saviours, as we need to be able to reach a vet, often out of hours and at weekends. Of course, we also really appreciate the support and donations we get from the public for our fundraisers,like cake sales and flag days. We’ll be holding a flag day on December 8 and will be very, very grateful for any donations we get,” Martina said.

Frankie Coote and Samantha Cleary, who looks after the kennels in the Ennis Dog Pound, are very appreciative of the help that Martina and Babydog rescue service provide when Samantha calls on them.

“The bottom line is that the 130 dogs Martina and Mags – who does an awful lot of work, as does Samantha – rescued would have to have been put down. We assess every dog before it goes out and, without Martina and her friend, Mags, and Babydog Rescue, they wouldn’t have got out.
“We’re absolutely delighted with her,” Frankie said.

Ron Kirwan

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