Rescue centres across the country are in a crisis. Here’s what you can do to help, even in the smallest of ways
Animal shelters across Ireland are stretched to capacity. In fact, the situation is said to be worse than ever, as rescue centres struggle to cope with the unprecedented influx of unwanted pets, particularly dogs, following the short-lived pet ownership boom of the pandemic. We as a nation need to do our bit to help the incredible volunteers who are working tirelessly across the country; they are unsung heroes who dedicate their lives to animal welfare. And we owe it to the innocent creatures who deserve a loving home; a cosy sofa to curl up on in front of the fire and endless belly rubs. You may feel like you can’t help, as you’re not currently in the position to adopt a dog. However, there are many other ways that you can make a difference.
This Christmas, My Lovely Horse Rescue, who take in horses, pigs, goats and cats as well as dogs, is imploring people to spread the #AdoptDontShop message with a video message series. It’s not a new message, but it is a vital one; so many pups are bought as Christmas gifts, only to be dumped at shelters in the new year. Puppy farms continue to be funded, while extra pressure is placed on the rescue centres. We need to get the message through to our relatives, friends, colleagues: why buy a dog when there are so many waiting to be adopted? “We need to remember that there are no broken dogs, just a really broken system,” Orla from My Lovely Horse Rescue tells us. “Dogs are just like us, each one individual and unique with so much love to give. All they want is a home to call their own and a family they can love, protect and be safe with forever.” Follow here for the #AdoptDontShop campaign videos.
Money is tight for everyone, we get it. But, any donation, no matter how small, can go a long way for shelters, and help with paying bills, vet costs and food for the dogs in their care. The likes of Roz Purcell are offering a great initiative in donating to this good cause; you’re in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize, like a stay at Ashford Castle, or €1,000 worth of hair extensions. Some shelters like Milo’s Mission Rescue or The Haven Rescue are selling calendars or Christmas cards to help with rising costs, which make a nice gift to the animal-lover in your life. And, if you feel like you don’t need anything for a Christmas present this year, you can always ask your loved ones to donate to a rescue centre of your choice as your gift.
Whether it’s a bake sale, table quiz, coffee morning or sponsored walk, you can find a way to raise funds for shelters while enjoying quality time with friends and family. If you want some fundraising ideas, click to the ISPCA website.
If you’re looking for more fulfilment in your life, volunteering for a shelter could be the new meaningful activity in your life as you head into a fresh new year. Volunteer work is the backbone of a rescue centre, and it comes in many forms; from administration and help with online activity to walking and feeding the animals. If you feel you can offer up some of your time, get in touch with the rescue centre closest to you. Find a list of animal rescues in Ireland here.
If you can’t commit to adopting a dog, as it is a huge commitment, why not offer to foster, which is a vital service for rescue centres. It helps to free up space and allow other animals in need to be taken in, and it helps to find the foster dog its forever home. Some dogs do not cope well in a kennel environment, and being in a loving environment with lots of attention can totally transform them. Word of warning, it can be extremely difficult to give them back (I failed miserably with my rescue Jack Russell, Mike) but if you’re looking for a way to do your bit for the unwanted dogs across Ireland – with a huge emotional reward – then you absolutely should consider fostering. Read more about what it involves here. And, if you are able to go that one step further to adopt, make sure to check out new site Pet Match, which showcases the animals across Ireland that are looking for a home.