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Dogs which escape from homes often reported as stolen


Helena Le Mahieu.

Helena Le Mahieu.

Remi and Helena Le-Mahieu.

Remi and Helena Le-Mahieu.

Remi and Helena Le-Mahieu.

Remi and Helena Le-Mahieu.


Helena Le Mahieu.


ASH Animal Sanctuary is advising dog owners to ensure their pet is safely secured when outside due to a surge in dogs which are being reported stolen, when in fact they gone missing after escaping.

The Kiltegan based animal sanctuary is operated by Helena and Remi Le Mahieu, who are currently looking after over 40 dogs.

Helena feels there has been a noticeable increase in people reporting their dogs stolen after the pet has been rescued having been discovered wandering backroads in a bad condition.

“We had a recent case here where we took in a dog who was in a very poor state. Two days later the owners contacted us to say the dog had been stolen three weeks ago. If your dog went missing three weeks ago and then is left in with us, it wasn’t stolen. It’s actually lost and going hungry. People often say ‘we leave the dog in the yard, which is open, but our dog would never run away’.

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“Owning a dog is a huge responsibility, that goes far beyond Christmas. If the dog lives inside with the family, then of course you want to let the dog outside to enjoy the outdoors, but it must be safe. If your dog was stolen you wouldn’t find it three weeks later close to your home. Someone would have tried to make some money from the dog if they stole it. Not having a safe and secure area outside for your dog is another way of not taking responsibility for your pet.”

Around this time of year, with Christmas just gone, many people got puppies and kittens for themselves and their children, often not realising the true extent of looking after them and the cost involved.

“You have to think really hard if you are thinking of getting a pet for Christmas,” said Helena.

“A dog should be part of the family and shouldn’t be kept outside looking in at the family gathered around the fire, especially now the weather is getting colder. I don’t have strong feelings that no one should get a dog at Christmas. A good home is a good home, regardless of what time of year it is. However, if you aren’t 100 per cent committed, then don’t do it. Go out and buy yourself a fluffy toy instead.”

There was a surge in pet ownership during lockdown, which led to fears that many of these pets would be abandoned once society opened back up again. So far Helena is grateful to say that hasn’t been the case.

“Usually the busiest time of year for unwanted and abandoned pets would be between Halloween and Christmas but that didn’t really happen this year. That’s usually around the time of year you find some dogs have outstayed their welcome. We are though picking up more dogs who are extremely neglected and still haven’t been micro-chipped six years after the legislation was introduced. We picked up six to seven dogs around the area from Knockananna to Dunlavi recently, and not one of them was micro-chipped.”

Ash is also currently home to a number of cats and kittens, as well as smaller animals, such as rabbits.

“We have 70 rabbits staying with us at the moment. It only takes one family to think it would be fun to have a male and female rabbit, but after 14 babies they soon realise it isn’t any fun at all.

“We are also finding a lot of very young and sick kittens. We picked up seven from St Kevin’s School in Dunlavin, and a girl working here on work experience said there are another seven still there. It’s not easy to say where they come from. People are finding a single, screeching kitten in their back garden but it’s not always clear where they are from. They need to be taken in and neutered.”