AN UNUSUALLY BUSY END TO THE YEAR AT WICKLOW SPCA
IT’S BEEN A HECTIC END TO 2014 AT THE ANIMAL SANCTUARY IN RATHDRUM AND STAFF EXPECT IT TO GET BUSIER IN EARLY 2015. PADRAIG BYRNE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM AS THEY REFLECT ON PROGRESS MADE AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
IT’S been quite a busy year for the Wicklow SPCA at Sharpeshill Animal Sanctuary. Each year hundreds of animals, some of whom have been savagely mistreated, are taken in by the staff there and rehomed.
As 2014 draws to a close, the volunteers at Sharpeshill have been kept even busier than usual as more and more animals are presented to them needing a new home and they expect to be even busier at the beginning of the New Year.
Each year at Christmas, pets are given as presents without full thought to the commitment and attention that they require. Sadly a lot of these animals end up at Sharpeshill looking to be rehomed.
‘If people want to take on an animal and give it a home, that’s great,’ said Anne Fitzpatrick, Manager of Wicklow SPCA. ‘However, we do say that Christmas is not the right time to do it. When you bring a new pet into a home, it needs a lot of time and attention and at Christmas there are a lot of other distractions. What a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s a 15 or 16 year commitment and the novelty can wear off. Sadly that’s why we get a lot of puppies in around March and April looking for new homes. They’re Christmas presents that have gone wrong.’
Unusually, however, this year Sharpeshill is seeing a spike in the amount of animals arriving to them before Christmas.
‘It’s quite unusual,’ said Anne. ‘In the last six to eight weeks we’ve been very busy and a lot of people are coming forward with dogs to be rehomed. At the moment, we’ve no room at all and we have people on waiting lists with dogs that need to be rehomed. I’m not sure what’s causing the increase this year. Maybe people are under pressure financially coming up to Christmas and can’t afford the expense of a dog. I don’t know.’
However, there have been positives in 2014 for Wicklow SPCA too. A lot of work has been done throughout the year with the gardaí in bringing those responsible for animal cruelty to justice.
‘We had one case this year that was very bad,’ said Anne. ‘We took in a total of seven Labradors that were badly mistreated and weighed less than ten kilos. A case is going through the courts in relation to it at the moment. The dogs are now in foster homes and are doing very well thankfully. Hopefully as soon as the court case is done with, we can look into rehoming them. These dogs are sort of left in limbo until such time that the case makes it before the court.’
Bringing cases of animal cruelty before the courts can be a lengthy process, however, and can take two years or longer before a judgement is passed and the animals must wait it out in foster homes in the meantime. ‘ This has a knock-on effect on our resources as kennel and cattery space will be limited during this process,’ Anne said. ‘Our hope for the future is that the new laws and the appropriate enforcement will prevent these long delays and these pets will be available for rehoming in a faster time scale.’
As well as all their usual work tackling animal cruelty and re-homing animals, the Wicklow SPCA have also been busy with a range of new initiatives in 2014.
‘We’ve had a few new initiatives this year. One
of them involved working with the Simon Community in Wicklow town and a free one-day veterinary clinic was held in the town. Over 200 animals were seen by our vet and nearly 100 dogs were microchipped, so, all in all, the day was very successful and something we plan on expanding to other towns in Wicklow in the New Year.’
The problem of feral cats is one which the organisation attempted to address during the year with their ‘ Trap, Neuter and Return’ (TNR) policy.
‘It’s something which continues to be in demand,’ said Anne. ‘ There are large amounts of stray cats out there and it’s important to control this. Members of the public have shown their support and are interested in preventing unwanted litters of kittens by spaying/neutering their adult cats.’
Garnering particular praise for all their hard work throughout the year were the foster carers who take in animals from Sharpeshill on a regular basis. ‘We couldn’t do it without them,’ said Anne. ‘ The sanctuary runs at capacity throughout the year and we really appreciate all of our foster carers who take in these weak and ill animals into their homes where they can receive round the clock care.’
Anne also thanked the public who have shown massive support for the SPCA during the year with all manner of fundraising and donations, as well as giving their time to help. To conclude, she said: ‘We wish everyone a very happy Christmas and don’t forget the present under the tree for your family pet!’
IF PEOPLE WANT TO TAKE ON AN ANIMAL AND GIVE IT A HOME, THAT’S GREAT. HOWEVER, WE DO SAY THAT CHRISTMAS IS NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO DO IT.
Ellie and Kate Barcoe with Rudi and Sam at the Sharpeshill Animal Sanctuary open day which took place earlier this year.
Anne Fitzpatrick, Manager at Sharpeshill