Animal rescue campaigner is rewarded for her service
Fiona Gammell from Wicklow Animal Welfare was recognised for 40 years of rescuing and rehabilitating dogs as she won the Charitable Contribution of the Year Award at the Ceva Animal Welfare Awards.
The awards were hosted by TV presenter and animal lover, Matt Baker, and renowned retired veterinary surgeon, Chris Laurence MBE FRCVS.
Fiona works 24/7 looking after dogs at Wicklow Animal Welfare in Ballinaclash, Rathdrum and trying to find them new homes.
Each year she cares for over 300 dogs and also takes on horses and cats. She has also built up a strong relationship with the Traveller community and provides vaccinations, worming and flea treatments and mange treatment.
Fiona was delighted just to be nominated for a Ceva Animal Welfare Award but never expected to actually win.
'I am absolutely delighted and over the moon. I can't believe it. I still feel there are hundreds if not thousands of people working away behind the scenes who don't get the recognition they deserve. I just happened to get nominated. To be honest when I got nominated I framed the nomination document and hung it up I was so pleased, but I never for a second thought I would win.'
Every dog she rescues is given an opportunity to recover and find a great home, while any animals that are not able to be rehomed she takes into her own house. Others are sent to the UK to be rehomed. Every penny raised for the rescue also goes back into the animals, including much of her own money.
'It's becoming increasingly difficult to find homes for rescue dogs in this country. I think puppy farms have made rescue dogs invisible. Lots of people don't want a dog unless it is small, white and fluffy. Other dogs like sheep dogs and lurchers still need new homes as well.
'The work never stops but this is what I do and I have been doing it since the age of twelve,' said Fiona.
She also works tirelessly to convince owners that their pet should be neutered.
'It's so irresponsible not to get your dog or cat neutered. Maybe forty or fifty years ago it may have been lack of education, or even lack of resources, that prevented people getting their pets neutered but not anymore. Now the information is out there and there really isn't any excuse not to get your pet neutered,' said Fiona.