Attempts to reduce dogs put down in Longford

Longford Dog Pound with the help of Animal Heaven, Animal Rescue (AHAR) are attempting to reduce the number of dogs being put to sleep in the county after a huge jump in the figures last year.

Longford Dog Pound with the help of Animal Heaven, Animal Rescue (AHAR) are attempting to reduce the number of dogs being put to sleep in the county after a huge jump in the figures last year.

Last week, Animal Heaven, Animal Rescue, accompanied by its patron, musician Sharon Shannon, collected a further five dogs that were in the care of Longford pound to bring them to their refuge in Kerry. AHAR has been collecting dogs from Longford pound since the turn of the year.

In the past year, there has been an increase in the number of dogs being seized in Longford; these are dogs that are either stray, abandoned or victims of cruelty. In 2011, 204 of these dogs were re-homed by the Longford dog warden and local groups. However, 264 dogs and an additional 10 greyhounds were put to sleep in Longford last year, an increase of 70 dogs and greyhounds on the year before.

This increase sparked Gertrude Malone of SPCA and Pat Mulryan, the local dog warden, to contact AHAR.

“There’s an incredible amount of stray dogs in Longford since the turn of the year, and along with Pat Mulryan, we would be very anxious that these dogs don’t get put down. I heard about Animal Heaven, Animal Rescue and the work that they do in rehousing dogs, so I thought it would be a good idea,” Gertrude said. Due to the intervention of AHAR, and the commitment of Pat Mulryan, just 36 dogs have been put down this year.

AHAR was founded by Suzanne Gibbons in 1991 as a rescue for horses and ponies that were going to the slaughterhouse but very quickly it turned into a rescue for all unwanted animals and birds including wildlife and cruelty cases.

In an average week, 13 dogs, 10 cats, two wildlife animals, and four horses are homed, fostered or sent to UK rescues through AHAR. Since last September, AHAR has taken in 2,544 dogs.

Ms Gibbons told the Leader that the number of dogs being abandoned and subsequently put down is at the highest level she has ever experienced. “I have never, ever seen anything like it. Every kind of dog is finding itself in the pound these days. We take the dogs that no one else wants – the ones on death row. We retrain them and re-home them.”

AHAR is finding it increasingly difficult to find homes in Ireland for their dogs, and are turning increasingly to rescue homes in the UK. “Last Monday we sent 33 of our dogs to rescues we have agreements with in England and by Friday, 18 had found homes. In advance of sending the dogs, I send pictures and profiles which help the rescue homes over there find suitable homes before the dogs arrived,” Ms Gibbons said. “We have no choice, there are so few people willing to take dogs in Ireland these days,” she added.

Ms Gibbons, who works on a voluntary basis, relies on public donations to fund her work. “Every cent we receive goes to the dogs; no money is taken out for administration or to pay staff. All the volunteers work for free, as do I, simply out of a love for animals and by trying to wrong this horrible situation facing dogs in this country at present.”

AHAR hopes to save every dog it can from being put to sleep. “We literally take the dogs no one else wants. There’s a great sense of satisfaction in turning around a dog who was previously vicious or angry. Dogs are like buckets, you get out of them what you put in. If you treat them correctly, they will do likewise,” Ms Gibbons remarked.