Sunday 25 February 2018

Give a dog a new leash of life

Adopting a dog not only rescues a pup, but can save your soul too.

Vicki with her rescue dogs Dora and Jacko
Vicki with her rescue dogs Dora and Jacko
Vicki Notaro

Vicki Notaro

They say a dog is a man's best friend, but if so, why do we treat our four-legged pals so shabbily?

Right now, rescue centres and pounds around Ireland are teeming with abandoned and mistreated dogs, many bought as Christmas presents and discarded after the initial novelty wears off.

"Usually the post-Christmas abandonment of dogs starts in February, but this year it seems to be happening much earlier," explains Lorna Dunne of Cara Rescue Dogs in Co Laois. "These animals are being thrown from cars and dumped on mountainsides nearby."

Cara relies on fostering and donations from the public in order to be able to help abandoned dogs. "We have dogs of all shapes and sizes at any one time, ranging from tiny terrier puppies to lurchers and labradors. At present, we have over 70 dogs in 30 to 40 foster homes, and re-home on average five to seven dogs per week."

Doing the math, it's easy to see that this number could be a lot higher. Distressing figures from Dog's Trust last year revealed that 10 dogs are still euthanised every day in pounds around the country.

But it seems that people would rather pay big bucks for a designer puppy than rescue one in need.

While there's nothing wrong with wanting a specific type of dog, many choose their pets for the wrong reasons.

My experience with rescue dogs goes back 17 years, when my parents adopted a Cairn Terrier pup from Kildare Animal Foundation (KAF). Molly lived to be 16, and when it came time for me to start my own furry family, I went back out to KAF.

There I met Dora, a frightened young terrier-cross who'd been abandoned not once, but twice.

I had to take her, but there was a catch - she came with a little pal named Jacko, a puppy-sized black terrier about the same age who had been in the wars; he had mange and a hematoma on his ear, but was on the mend.

Two weeks later, I brought them both home (pictured above).

It wasn't easy - Dora had severe separation anxiety. I still don't know their back story or how they came to be together. Two-and-a-half years later, they are the happiest, sweetest pair of dogs you could meet - the lights of my life.

I believe that adopting a dog can be restorative for both human and animal.

And it's not just me - these owners were dying to rave about their rescues too...

To donate and help a rescued dog today, text CARA to 50300 to donate €4.

Irish Independent

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