Thursday 27 October 2016

All creatures great and small... deserve love

The benefits of owning a pet are immeasurable, but be careful not to contribute to the cruel animal trade, says Lucinda O'Sullivan

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

A DOG'S LIFE? Suzie Carley, communications officer with Dogs Trust holds Jack Russell puppies Fiona, Serena and Jacinta in the puppy screening unit. Photo: Tony Gavin
A DOG'S LIFE? Suzie Carley, communications officer with Dogs Trust holds Jack Russell puppies Fiona, Serena and Jacinta in the puppy screening unit. Photo: Tony Gavin

People all over Ireland were shocked last week, when dreadful pictures of neglected and ill-treated animals emerged following the closure of puppy farms in Northern Ireland and also in Myshall, Co Carlow.

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At the latter establishment, which had been registered under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010, the ISPCA Inspectors seized 52 dogs and two horses. "Even seasoned ISPCA officers found conditions encountered at this premises truly shocking," said ISPCA chief inspector Conor Dowling,

To which ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly added: "We will be calling on the Department of the Environment to revise the DBEA (Dog Breeding Establishment Act) to allow random and unannounced inspections of all registered breeding establishments."

BBC TV Scotland also aired The Dog Factory, a shocking investigation into the multi-million pound world of the dog trade. In this regard, recent cases dealt with by the DSPCA included 116 puppies seized at Dublin Port. They estimate that between 35,000 and 40,000 puppies are being exported from Ireland to the UK each year.

The benefits of owning a pet cannot be emphasised enough.

They contribute so much to family life and to people who are living alone. Each animal I have ever had has had such a different personality, but all were loving and intelligent.

My focus has been on Siamese cats, which I have had in my life since childhood. The current incumbents are Bobby Dazzler and Bruno, who follow you around and 'talk' back to you constantly. Through my love of Siamese cats, many years ago I met the inestimable Betty Dobbs, who is a recognised expert in the cat world in Ireland.

Since the late Sixties, Betty has worked tirelessly over the years. "Once you get involved in Siamese cats you are addicted for life."

The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of Ireland (GCCFI) was founded in 1968 and it is the registering body for pedigree cats in Ireland. Next Sunday, May 10, the GCCFI are holding their 25th Anniversary 2015 Supreme Show at Ballinteer Community School on Broadford Road, Ballinteer, Dublin 16, and it is open to the public from 12.30pm-5pm.

Spectators will be able to watch the judging and hear the comments of the visiting judges.

It's a unique opportunity to view the top specimens of the feline world, including Persians, Birmans, Ragdolls, British Short Hair, Korat, Asian, Tigganie, Sphynx, Bengal, Burmese, Oriental, Siamese and Maine Coon - the biggest of all the cat breeds.

By the way, if you are looking for somewhere to board your beautiful cat for the holidays, check out their excellent cattery which is run by Betty's daughter, Mary.

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Talking about boarding your cat for the summer holidays, Colm Conlon, of Village Vets in Stillorgan, tells me that the whole scene has changed for the better. No longer is Kitty tucked away in a cage while you are sunning yourself in Ibiza.

At Village Vets, Kitty has the benefit of in-house veterinary care, along with a leisure area with perches on which to sit up and observe the world and a large exercise area where they can scratch, relax and chill out.

Another person who would agree with this policy is veterinarian, Aoife Caulfied of Just Cats in Clonsilla.

Aoife, who grew up in Glasnevin, is a lifelong cat lover. When she graduated from UCD, she emigrated to Canada, where she gained experience in treating a variety of species.

She returned to Ireland in 2012, bringing with her Borris, a Russian Blue cat, who is her pride and joy. She also has three dogs, Margaret, Mabel and Nelson. In July 2014, Aoife set up her own veterinary clinic, Just Cats, where she works with her team, veterinary nurse Roisin Foran, vet Sarah Crosbie and student veterinary nurse, Aisling Sheridan.

"When I was in Canada, I was introduced to the concept of 'cat-friendly' veterinary medicine and feline-only clinics. Cat-only clinics bring two specific things to the table.

"Firstly, they allow us to deliver feline health care in a way that cats are more willing to accept. Secondly, we can build a team with more expertise in all matters feline.

"In general, cats are lumped into the 'small dog' category, when in reality, and in particular medically, they are a very unique species. Cat-friendliness is a concept that helps us to make the visit to the vet more enjoyable (less stressful).

"The environment is set up here so that the cats are as comfortable as possible. No dogs makes a big difference!" insists Aoife.

"Our bespoke kennels for patients and guests are designed for maximum comfort. We are at the cutting edge of feline medicine, surgery and dentistry. All of our equipment is optimised for cats' small size and specific needs.

"The majority of cat owners are reluctant to take their cat to the vet. If we can make the visit less stressful, for all involved, the aim is that these cats can get the care they deserve.

"We want to encourage cat-friendliness across the veterinary community, we want to encourage owners to take good medical care of their feline friends and through our involvement with Last Hope Animal Charity, we are working to spay and neuter as many feral and stray cats as possible."

Lastly, don't forget to support the ISPCA Mini Marathon on Bank Holiday Monday, June 1.

Sunday Independent

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