Animal shelter hit with husky crisis

Maurice Enright of Sera Husky Animal Rescue in Lisselton with Lexi, Dina and Hatchi
Maurice Enright of Sera Husky Animal Rescue in Lisselton with Lexi, Dina and Hatchi

Marisa Reidy

A NORTH Kerry animal shelter has been so inundated with unwanted husky dogs from 'bored' owners that the man who runs it is having to open his very own charity shop in Tralee to pay for their care.

Lisselton man Maurice Enright said that the beautiful breed, which was the dog of choice a number of years ago, has now become surplus to requirements for many families, who either cannot afford to keep them or have simply grown bored of the novelty.

Maurice is currently caring for over 20 huskies at the Sera Husky Rescue centre in Lisselton, many of whom were left to him by owners who no longer wanted them. As an animal lover and a man who has devoted his life to animal welfare, Maurice says he is horrified by what is happening.

"Of course there are some people who cannot afford them any longer because their circumstances have changed, but the reality is that for most, they've just got bored," he said. "Huskies were the dog of the day a while back and went for anything up to €1,000, but once they lose their cute puppy look and people realise that walking is a massive part of their routine and that they crave attention like any other dog, they lose interest. To say the situation is bad is an understatement."

Maurice explained that many of those who bought husky pups did so with very little knowledge of the breed. They went purely for their looks, he said, be it their soft, fluffy features as pups or their stern, wolf-like appearance in adulthood. Very few, however, anticipated the level of care huskies require, which has resulted in Maurice now trying to care for an influx of animals, all of whom are about a year old.

"People had the wrong idea about them. These animals need attention, walking is a major factor for them because they get bored extremely easily and they are big animals that need a lot of space to get around. In fact, they go downhill very quickly if they are confined to small areas," he explained. "What's worse is that no one spayed or neutered their animals so the place became really overpopulated with this particular breed and now we're trying to cope with the unwanted ones."

Because Maurice is caring for the animals out of his own pocket, bar a few donations he receives now and again, he has decided to open a new charity shop in Tralee (opposite Radio Kerry on Maine Street, Tralee) to help raise some money for the shelter.

"Each dog that comes to me costs a minimum of €250 to get ready for re-homing, so it's not sustainable the way things are. The charity shop will open on August 6 and hopefully that will help," Maurice explained. "I've also been very grateful that my local vets, Tracey and Sheehan in Listowel, are hugely supportive of what I'm doing."

The ultimate aim for Maurice is to re-home his extended family of animals, which also includes donkeys, horses, pigs, sheep, cats and even reptiles. However, great care is taken when finding a suitable owner.

"Re-homing the animals is something we take very seriously. We don't just hand over a dog to someone who comes in and says they want to take him home," he said. "Finding the right home for the right dog and the right dog for the right home is hugely important for us," he said.

Until then, Maurice will continue to accept unwanted animals if it means sparing them from the pound and, naturally, any support he can get from the public is most welcome.