Puppies left dangling over a Donegal river are now thriving in ISPCA care

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Three new-born puppies that were abandoned in a plastic bag and left dangling over a river a few weeks ago, are now thriving in ISPCA care.

The puppies were found in a plastic bag and left for dead dangling over a river near Drumkeen, on the Ballybofey to Letterkenny route in Co Donegal earlier this month.

A concerned passer by spotted the bag caught on a strand of barbed wire over the river and immediately contacted veterinarian, Alexander Smyth, who proceeded to perform a specialist rescue, knowing that if the bag became detached or ripped, whatever was inside would almost certainly drown in the fast-moving water.

The puppies were immediately removed to safety and treated for hypothermia, hypoglycaemia and hunger by the veterinary team who were on standby.  The vulnerable puppies were no more than seven to ten days old.

ISPCA Centre Manager and Veterinary Nurse, Denise McCausland said:  “We’ve been caring for the pups – Fern, Alex and Glen – around the clock since they arrived and it was touch-and-go whether any of the puppies would survive.

"As a veterinary nurse, I know just how important it is that they get enough fluids for both nourishment and hydration and also that they expel frequently and easily. Too much or too little and the situation can change for the worse really, really quickly. During that first night, I hand-fed them milk by syringe nearly every hour.”

The puppies were weighed every few hours, according to Ms McCausland, who also regularly checked their gums for colour and that their little bellies were comfortably full and stretched.

"If their skin is too loose, their gums discoloured or their urine too dark, we would need to intervene immediately," she said.

PICTURES | Puppies fly tipped like pieces of trash and left dangling for dead above a river, now in ISPCA care

It was a challenge those first few nights to keep the puppies alive and well but, thanks to the tireless efforts of Ms McCausland over the last number of weeks, all three are doing well.

"I really didn’t rest more than 15 minutes at a time for those first few nights. They were placed under a heat lamp to keep them warm and a ticking clock helped calm them when they cried for their mom," said Ms McCausland.

"It was just so heart-breaking. They were also suffering from the shock and stress of suddenly being orphaned. Now they have almost doubled in weight and are starting to behave like puppies should. It is really wonderful that they have all survived and are now able to comfort each other after such a terrible start in life."

While gardaí are constantly encouraging vigilance with dog owners as dog thefts are occurring across the country on a regular basis, the ISPCA is reporting that these kinds of abandonment incidents are a regular occurance.

"It breaks my heart to tell you these rescue cases aren’t one-offs," said Ms McCausland. 

"We are continuously responding to calls about animal cruelty, neglect and abuse made to our National Animal Cruelty Helpline. It takes on average 54 days of rehabilitation and care before we can responsibly rehome them and looking after an animal for this long, takes time and money.

"Although Fern, Alex and Glen have pulled through, they still need a lot of critical care and will need to stay at the ISPCA Animal Rehabilitation Centre for several more weeks.

"Worryingly, many of our fundraising activities have been cancelled or postponed so kind donations from animal lovers are more important than ever. If you can, please help us continue our vital work rescuing and caring for vulnerable animals."

By donating today, you can help animals, like Fern, Alex and Glen, find loving homes.

WATCH: Adorable scenes as Gardaí reunite stolen puppies with their mother