SANCTUARY NEEDS MORE HELP AS RECESSION BITES
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.