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The charm factor

Owner: Maura Derrane, TV presenter

Animal: Maura has a tortoiseshell cat called Toffee Apple

Background: Maura helped to launch the National Animal Welfare Forum and the ISPCA Spay Drive in Dublin last week

Maura has a soft spot for animals and rescue animals in particular. She knows that it's a double win: you give them a second chance and they enhance your life. Her rescue dog, Bunny, died last year at the age of 14 and she now has a cat, Toffee Apple.

Maura has been delighted to help with three animal-related events. The last week of May marked the launch of Spay Ireland, a campaign highlighting the benefits of having pets spayed and neutered. There's a huge problem with high numbers of unwanted dogs and cats in Ireland: every year, thousands of healthy animals are euthanased because they don't have homes. If owners had their pets spayed or neutered before they reached the age of breeding, the problem could be solved. If you have any questions about spaying or neutering, visit www.spayireland.com to find out more.


The second event is specifically about spaying cats. The ISPCA has launched a fundraising campaign called Spay Drive: the public need to text the word SPAY to 57802, and a €3 donation will be made to the campaign (the ISPCA gets €2.57 of the total).

The aim is to raise €10,000, to be used for a nationwide Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) scheme. Humane cat traps will be distributed among local SPCAs around the country to capture feral cats so that they can be spayed or neutered and released.

It's estimated that there are 200,000 feral cats in Ireland: the ISPCA wants to bring this number down to a level where feral cats can live healthy, well-fed lives.

The third event was the 2012 National Animal Welfare Forum that took place in Dublin's Citywest Hotel last Sunday. Hosted by Veterinary Ireland, the Forum provided individuals and representatives from animal welfare organisations an opportunity to discuss key animal welfare issues.


The problem of unwanted puppies and kittens was featured, as well as the feral cat issue. Additionally, there were talks on farm animal welfare: Irish farmers were praised for the high level of care on Irish farms, but concern was expressed about the number of live Irish cattle and sheep that are exported to far-off destinations where they are slaughtered in ways that would be illegal within Europe.

There were also discussions about welfare problems associated with the sale of animals online and there was a detailed briefing about the upcoming Animal Health and Welfare Bill which is currently passing through the Seanead.

Maura willingly gave up her time to help to promote these three worthy causes. She recognises that animals don't have voices: they need caring humans to speak up to protect them.