CASH STRAPPED

SANC­TU­ARY NEEDS MORE HELP AS RE­CES­SION BITES

Bray People - - NEWS - MYLES BUCHANAN

AS the re­ces­sion con­tin­ues to put the squeeze on pet own­ers, es­tab­lish­ments such as ASH An­i­mal Sanc­tu­ary find an even greater bur­den be­ing placed on them.

With over 100 dogs to care for, and count­less num­bers of cats and other an­i­mals, Remi and He­lena Le Mahieu of ASH find them­selves un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure, with no signs of a drop-off in the num­bers of an­i­mals be­ing left into the sanc­tu­ary.

While aban­doned and mis­treated an­i­mals are still a prob­lem, most of the re­cent spate of dogs tak­ing up res­i­dence in ASH are vic­tims of the harsh eco­nomic times.

‘Many peo­ple are leav­ing the coun­try and very few of them can bring their pets with them,’ says He­lena.

‘ They haven’t or­gan­ised a house yet, or the ac­com­mo­da­tion where they are stay­ing doesn’t al­low an­i­mals.

‘Ei­ther way, their pets end up be­ing left be­hind. It’s very sad in most cases. It’s the same sce­nario for overseas peo­ple who have lived in Ire­land for some time but are now forced to head back to their coun­try of ori­gin.

‘Of­ten it’s not that they don’t want to keep their pet, it’s just that they don’t really have much of an op­tion.’

In such sce­nar­ios, a pet is far more likely to be handed over to a sanc­tu­ary than to a pound.

‘Peo­ple are more and more aware of the po­ten­tial dan­gers of leav­ing a pet in at a pound,’ adds He­lena.

‘ They know the an­i­mal might be de­stroyed, where as they know a sanc­tu­ary will con­tinue look­ing af­ter that pet un­til a home is found.

‘ That puts added pres­sure on us. I could never turn around and say ‘I won’t take that pet.’

In a sign of the time fi­nances at ASH are also be­ing stretched to the limit. Remi and He­lena spent on av­er­age €25,000 on vet bills alone.

While they re­ceive and ap­pre­ci­ate a Government grant of €15,000, it still leaves ASH some­way short from the an­nual spend of close to €200,000 a year.

‘ The work never stops,’ ad­mits He­lena.

‘We are gear­ing up now for the big aban­don­ment is­sue that al­ways arises around Christ­mas time. It gets ex­haust­ing but you have to power on.

‘You have the usual mix­ture of ig­no­rance and gen­uine cases. Dogs are still be­ing aban­doned reg­u­larly. We just try to be care­ful about what we spend and watch ev­ery penny.’

Remi and He­lena LeMathieu with the Bur­row pup and Liath. Pic­turesJoeByrne.

Pa­tri­cia Sowards and Holly at ASH.

Two pups that were born re­cently at ASH.

Mar­garet Sowards with Kilmer.

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