Gimme Shelter: the canine house takes care of 220 dogs this year

Carlow Kilkenny Dog Shelter has recently seen an increase in abandoned or abandoned dogs. Most are 12 to 18 months old, the Covid puppies that were adopted during the lockdowns. Now that the peak of Covid has passed and people are returning to work, dogs are increasingly being abandoned. So far this year, the shelter near Paulstown has rehomed or had 220 dogs in its care.

Gillian Henderson, who has worked at the shelter for over four years, says: “The last six to nine months, it’s just gotten out of hand.

Currently, due to the volume of dogs, the shelter only accepts abandoned or stray dogs. No discounts are accepted. At maximum capacity they can care for 20 dogs, 22 in an emergency. Recently they had a group of five dogs found abandoned together.

Due to the pandemic, abandoned dogs are often unsocialized or have behavioral issues. During the lockdowns, there was an “any dog ​​will do” mentality about getting a family dog, but now some of those pets have proven unsuitable for homes or environments in which they went.

The reasons for abandoning a dog are varied, including the end of homework and dogs being left alone, kennel boarding becoming more and more expensive, the cost of living crisis, socialization and/or health. The end result, however, is the same: a dog left homeless and in need of urgent care. This is where shelters like Carlow Kilkenny come in.

When a dog is brought to the rescue, the process involves checking for a microchip, recording the dog’s details, performing a health check, assessing its temperament, vaccinating and neutering it if necessary, taking her photo and then posting it on the shelter’s social media pages to find the owner or a new home. Then they wait for expressions of interest and screen applicants, a time-consuming practice to ensure the dogs go to the right homes.

If the dog is microchipped, an attempt is made to contact the owner. If there is no registered owner, the dog is identified as available for adoption. Owners have five days to claim a dog, after which they can be rehomed. The costs for relocating a dog are €50 and €25 if you pick them up.

Gillian Henderson, who treats all of her rescue charges with great care, calls on people to think long and hard about owning a dog. People should be aware that this can be a 14+ year commitment, breeds should be chosen that suit the lifestyle of an individual or family, dogs should be socialized and trained as young as possible and that cute puppies can grow into big, energetic dogs. Dogs can also be expensive.

Fortunately, dogs are no longer euthanized except in very exceptional circumstances, including if they have killed sheep, been hit by a car, are exceptionally aggressive, or have contracted canine parvovirus. . Carlow Kilkenny Dog Shelter’s statistics over the past few years are: one dog asleep in 2022, none in 2021 and two in 2020 (due to sheep death).

Nationally, the number of euthanized dogs has dropped significantly over the past 20 years. At its peak, 25,000 to 30,000 dogs were put to sleep each year. Today, the figure is less than 3,000: a drop of 90%. The campaign to promote responsible ownership and neutering of dogs, the Animal Health Protection Act of 2013, a policy change from dog shelters to work with rescues to place dogs, the Microchipping Act of 2016 and the regulation of puppy breeding via the Dog Breeding Act of 2010 have all contributed to the drop in the number of dogs being slaughtered.

However, the recent increase in dog drop-outs means the system is completely stretched to capacity. As Gillian observes: “This winter will probably be harsh. She wants people to “think twice before getting a dog.”

A dog should be for life, not for a little while.

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