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

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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

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