Non-profit rescue centre on the go for nearly 30 years
SINCE 1990 Helena and Remi Le Mahieu have been taking in hundreds of unwanted dogs, cats and a variety of other animals into their care at ASH Animal Rescue in Rathdangan.
The non-profit organisation operate a strict no-kill policy and currently have 80 dogs under their care.
Last year ASH re-homed 80 cats, two donkeys, three guinea pigs and two rabbits. From January to June of 2016 Helena and Remi managed to find new, loving homes for 119 dogs.
However, Helena admits that funding is always an issue.
‘We are still struggling financially and owe a lot to donations and fundraisers. We put a lot of our own life and time into ASH, and we do that because it makes us happy, but we would be nothing without our staff, volunteers and supporters. If it wasn’t for the donations we receive we simply wouldn’t be able to operate anymore.’
Unfortunately, Helena and ASH still regularly come across animal cruelty cases which horrify them despite their many years of experience.
‘We had a pointer dumped here last week who is extremely skinny. She is a very sweet girl but you can tell she has been through a lot. She is always hunched over with her head down like she is expecting the next blow to reign down on her.
‘Sometimes the hurt in the inside can be far greater than any physical pain. Just because the dog doesn’t have a big gaping wound doesn’t mean it hasn’t suffered some form of abuse. The mental pain can be just as bad.’
‘We took in another dog who had snare wounds on both of his legs right through to the bone. He was in obvious discomfort and in a lot of pain. He had to be put in intensive care and there was horrible yellow flesh growing out of the wound. The vet said he was surprised Forest’s bone hadn’t already snapped.
‘You get a lot of snares and traps around here. Only recently we were walking around half a mile from our home when we found a big trap with a skeleton of a fox in it. It was meant to be a trap and release used for feral cats but this fox had been left to starve to death - a truly agonising death. Incidents like that are horrific.
‘Recently in Carlow some CCTV captured footage of kids still in their school uniforms setting their lurcher dogs on any cats that passed by. Sadly incidents like these happen everywhere, not just in Wicklow.’
Since April of last year, all dogs in Ireland must b e micro-chipped and registered on a recognised data base.
However, Helena questions just how well the regulations are working considering a noticeable lack of scanners available to the public.
‘ There are no scanners anywhere so I don’t know how the Gardai are upholding the law. The chipping regulation has been law for the past eleven months but we are still receiving the same amount of un-chipped animals as before.
‘On St Stephen’s Day we had a man from Dublin contact us to say a huge cat had walked into his home. No vets were available and UCD only tackle emergencies so he brought the cat to us. We scanned it and were able to found out that the owner only lived a street away.
‘Another person rang on a weekend to say they discovered an injured cat while out walking in Cabinteely. Again there were no scanners in the locality so the cat was brought to us. We scanned it and it turned out the cat had been missing from an Enniskerry family since November 1. The family were overjoyed when they contacted us. It turned out to adopted a dog from ASH three years ago.
‘Every large community should have a scanner. They cost €220 each and we just donated one to the Maxol Service Station in Blessington. Lost pets are usually found at the weekend because that is when people are out and about. Usually vets are closed at that time of the week so a community scanner would allow lost animals to be reunited with their owners more quickly.’
Helena and Remi Le Mahieu of ASH in Rathdangan, Wicklow.