Wednesday 17 January 2018

Five animal care groups lose funding

Inspectors raise welfare concerns

REPORT: Charities including a dog shelter were criticised
REPORT: Charities including a dog shelter were criticised
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Five animal welfare organisations were refused funds by the Department of Agriculture after visits by state vets, according to records released to the Sunday Independent.

They included a dog shelter in Cork which was not approved for funding because of "animal welfare concerns", while others were not approved because of overcrowding or poor record-keeping.

The groups were among 150 animal welfare organisations that applied for a share of the €2.5m funding pot distributed by the department in 2014 on the approval of department vets.

The vast majority were praised for the excellent service. But a dog rescue charity was criticised after inspectors found "no evidence of care or quality of life" for the 22 dogs it cared for. The dogs at ColleensK9s in north Cork were fed a "seriously deficient" diet, according to the report, and the level of care give to them was found to be "very bad".

The facilities, visited in 2014, were found to be "cold and barren", and in a "remote location" with "very basic kennels..." The owner had also "made serious allegations of the dogs being poisoned" but the inspector said there was "no evidence".

When contacted by the Sunday Independent, the organisation stood by suspicions that the dogs had been poisoned and said a significant amount of money was spent on tests and autopsies, and the documents would have been available to the department.

The organisation had previously been approved for funding for sums ranging from €3,000 to €7,000. Inspectors did not recommend payment to ColleensK9s in 2014 "due to animal welfare concerns", but the organisation said it withdrew its application for funds.

The inspections are carried out in advance of payments being distributed to animal welfare groups that apply for funds. The inspection reports were released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act.

The majority of animal welfare groups were found to provide "good" and "excellent" care to abandoned and rescued animals, according to 200 inspections conducted in 2014 and 2015. The details in the reports reflect the huge scale of Ireland's abandoned and neglected animals, the proliferation of groups dealing with them, and the difficulties they encountered.

In Limerick city, for instance, staff with one animal welfare charity were being "threatened" and faced with "dangerous" situations responding to call-outs.

Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals employed one former garda to respond to complaints about animal cruelty - the vast of majority of them involving horses, dogs and cats in Limerick city.

The inspection carried out last year called for a fully trained inspector with powers to take prosecutions. The service in the city has since been taken over by ISPCA.

Sunday Independent

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