Dogs are yours for a lifetime
THE tentacles of the recession have stretched into almost every area of work and leisure activity. One consequence which could hardly have been predicted is a large increase in the number of pets dumped in pounds, handed over to charitable organisations, or simply abandoned in the streets.
Last year the count for dogs alone came to more than 20,000. Of these, nearly 8,000 were strays. Over 10,000 dogs were put down; new homes were found for the remainder.
Charities expect the numbers to swell this year. They say that former owners either blame their own financial difficulties or intend to emigrate in search of work.
It seems a reasonable guess that people intending to emigrate form a high proportion of those who abandon animals. This in turn draws attention to the increase in emigration among both Irish people and returning immigrants, an inevitable consequence of the recession.
From an animal lover's viewpoint, the most distressing aspect must be the large number of strays. This amounts to cruelty to former pets, and a possible threat to human health and welfare from feral animals.
The best reminder to potential pet owners has always been that "a puppy is not just for Christmas."
Campaigners should repeat this message all year round. If pets were acquired only after serious thought, and properly cared for, there would be no strays and no need for dog pounds.
And just for once, the solution is in the hands of individuals, not of any public authority.