Amanda Brunker: Why I had to send my rescue dog to Sweden
This week I sent my dog to Sweden to find his forever home.
I found him last year at the side of a motorway and gave him refuge. I couldn’t keep him, which causes real pain in my heart.
More than anything he needs companionship and while I gave him that over the last seven months, I would not have been able to offer that to him on the level he deserves in the future.
But what’s upsetting me today is the long list of reasons why I couldn’t find him another home here in Ireland.
Frankly, I’m really angry. I’m angry people don’t understand how wonderful greyhounds and lurchers are as pets. I’m angry that people don’t feel the need to neuter their dogs, which in turn aggressively explodes the pooch population.
But most especially I’m furious at the puppy farming culture that Ireland has nurtured… and the distinct lack of legislation that surrounds it.
It baffles me that people actually buy thousands of puppies at car boot sales and online through discount websites.
The numbers of unwanted dogs in this country is mind-blowing and Ireland is now considered the puppy farming capital of Europe.
These are the reasons why Alfie, along with 26 other beautiful dogs, had to spend over two days travelling in the back of a van in a voyage to a new country where he was wanted by a loving family.
Thankfully it was a specifically modified van for transporting dogs to get to Sweden. With him I sent a week’s supply of his favourite food, along with his favourite cushion and his passport. Just like ours it has a special place for a headshot to be included. Without it he would not have been allowed leave the country.
Well, legally that is. In February 116 puppies were seized at Dublin Port. All for illegal trade. It is estimated that at least 90,000 dogs are produced through Irish puppy farms each year. All bred purely for profit. An estimated 40,000 are shipped abroad.
Tragically, a brindle lurcher like Alfie is a dime a dozen here in Ireland. However, he will be considered (quite rightly) a prized dog in Sweden.
If I hadn’t rescued him from that Topaz garage in Bray last October, where he’d been dumped, having been beaten and half-starved, his fate would have been bleak. So I have to take the positives from my time fostering him.
But the thought that he had to take the boat to England, then the tunnel, before the boat to Holland, before travelling through Germany to reach his destination in Sweden… is pretty epic.
As all dog lovers will understand, the guilt I harbour for sending Alfie off to Scandinavia is immense. But it was for the best. Logically, his Swedish voyage to a loving new family seems unnecessary. But tragically it’s the reality for thousands of Irish dogs annually. And they’re the lucky ones who leave through animal sanctuaries such as PAWS.
Generally speaking, greyhounds and sighthounds are deemed a lot of work, or vicious. But Alfie is a gentle giant.
Thinking back to when I found him sitting in the forecourt of the Topaz at a roundabout in Bray, giving the paw to anyone who passed, extremely hungry and terribly thin, I don’t regret opening my car door and allowing him to jump in. He had a broken nose. Holes in his face. Open wounds spread across his underbelly, knees and elbows.
Yet amazingly he held no grudges against people, male or female, and healed quickly. He had obviously been beaten and starved, and God knows what else before being abandoned.
The husband tells me I should be proud of myself for fostering Alfie. For nursing him back to health. But my guilt now extends further than Alfie. The sad faces of the other dogs I saw being loaded on to the Swedish bus would melt the hardest of hearts.
Everything from lurchers and greyhounds, to collies, to huskies to Jack Russells and boxers were packaged off.
Sadly the dog situation in Ireland has gotten totally out of hand because people don’t like the idea of older dogs. And by older dogs I mean anything from three or four months up!
Whoever started this trend deserves to get whacked on the head with a shovel and tied up in a sack like so many other unwanted dogs are! OK, I take that back. The last thing I want to do is encourage violence. Even to those evil, money-driven sickos that breed dogs in cramped, darkened, filthy sheds.
But I do want to see them put out of business. Illegal puppy farming is disgusting and I urge people to stop creating demand for them.
If I can ask one thing of readers, it’s please think of adoption over buying. I sent a beautiful, fully-trained dog to Sweden. He calmly walked with me, was gentle around the kids and had a love of teddy bears, I kid you not!
If you feel you can offer a dog like Alfie a home log on to www.paws.ie or your nearest rescue dog shelter. It’s the right thing to do.