Sunday 25 February 2018

Taxidermy in Ireland: Top tips before you consider stuffing your pet

Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

There's a lot of work involved in making something dead appear living. It's not a cheap process either and certainly not for the squeamish.

Nevertheless, Lucan local Michael Dunne revels in it. In a small room upstairs in his suburban home, Mr Dunne has some of his finest artwork on display.The room is full of stuffed animals who are carefully posed to reflect their once natural habitat. There are foxes, an otter, some fish and many species of birds. But no pets. There's a very good reason behind that.

Michael Dunne admires some of his handiwork
Michael Dunne admires some of his handiwork

"People have to be very careful when choosing to stuff a pet, whether it be a dog or a cat," Mr Dunne says.

"Sometimes you can jump into it and call a taxidermist and get it done. Then you're half sorry then afterwards and not be happy with the result.

"If you have a dog, you know it inside out. You know the way they look at you. It's very hard to reproduce that look."

Nevertheless, the Dublin native has some tips for people to consider before getting their beloved pet stuffed.

"As soon as the pet dies, put it somewhere cool for about six or seven hours and then put it into a plastic bag, wrap it up to get the air out, then put it in the freezer.

"That way, it will keep and you can consider your options and whether you really want to go through with it or not," he said.

Michael has been involved in taxidermy for around 10 years and has won awards for his work, which he believes can be a powerful force in preservation.

"I think it's a fascinating thing to reproduce something that has died and make something of it that can be looked at and appreciated.

"Some people don't appreciate it, but in my opinion, if something is naturally killed on the road, I think it's a waste and a sin to throw it away," he said.

"If something can be done with it and it could be put on display somewhere, like a school for educational purposes, I think that's a bonus for the [animal] that has died. I think it's respect for it.

"I had a bit of a pet zoo at one time when I was a young lad. I had rabbits, budgies, canaries and a pet hare. Other young lads used to come in and I'd charge them a penny to get in and have a . I always had an interest in animals."

"It takes a lot more work that people actually think, but to see something with a broken wing or broken leg after getting a belt from a truck and then to see it standing there - it's a good feeling."

For more information on Michael's work, visit his website here.

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