Animal refuge owner is ‘devastated’ at seizure of 11 dogs by inspectors

Inspectors remove 11 dogs from sanctuary but devastated owner says major works now underway to upgrade surroundings

Pat Edwards with Shadow the fox

Pat Edwards and sanctuary helper Rob speaking with Patrick O’Connell

The dogs there include hounds Mac and Murphy

Pat Edwards with our reporter Patrick O’Connell

Bruno the dog at the site

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

THE OWNER of an animal sanctuary has vowed she will appeal a ban on taking in new rescues after inspectors found conditions at the site posed a threat to the health and welfare of the animals.

Last week, the ISPCA and Department of Agriculture visited one of the south east’s best-known animal refuges, the Deise Animal Sanctuary in the Nire Valley, Waterford, and removed 11 dogs, five buzzards, a harris hawk and a long-eared eagle owl for rehoming.

In a notice, animal welfare inspectors also required that the number of dogs kept on site by the registered charity be reduced by half – with the maximum number of dogs to be retained now capped at 20.

When the Sunday World called to the sanctuary, owner Pat Edwards said she was devastated by the seizure of the animals – before insisting major works are now underway to bring the animals’ surroundings up to standard.

“One-hundred per cent, we’re not perfect and we know that,” she said.

“But can you see any miserable dogs? Or any dogs tied up or kept in a cage? Do you know what I’m trying to say?

"It isn’t perfect but the animals here are happy animals. And we have rehomed an awful lot of dogs.”

“We are messy up here … but that’s because it’s a farm. We’re a sanctuary and a farm.

“We’ve pigs up here running loose. We’ve got goats, we’ve got sheep and we’ve got horses. We even have a tame fox and a deer. But look at the fields and space we’ve got.”

Pat Edwards and sanctuary helper Rob speaking with Patrick O’Connell

Asked why if the dogs were in good condition they were removed, Ms Edwards said she believes it was down to the condition of the sanctuary itself.

“It was mostly about the mud and the debris around the site,” she said.

“There were no dogs in bad condition. People drop dogs up here all the time. We used to find them tied to the gate and everything.

"But none of the dogs are neglected – we have about eight volunteers who come up and help out.”

After inviting our reporter on to the property, Ms Edwards said she was happy for the conditions inside to be photographed.

And she confirmed that approximately 30 dogs remain onsite along with goats, sheep, horses, a tame fox called Shadow and a deer called Bambi.

But she said urgent efforts are being made to find homes for the number of dogs in excess of the figure now allowed.

“They said we were overcrowded,” she said, “but I think that’s because all the animals are out.”

Asked again about the dogs that were removed on Tuesday, she said: “They weren’t seized … we surrendered them.

“They were all different breeds but they were all in good condition and I had the vet in with them on Saturday before the inspectors even came.

The dogs there include hounds Mac and Murphy

“And she micro-chipped every dog on the property and did a health check on them.

“She comes in once a month and treats all the animals.”

Ms Edwards said she had been surprised by the notice and animal seizure as the property had been the subject of annual inspections by the Department of Agriculture. “This sanctuary is visited once a year by the Department and inspected,” she continued.

“The last one happened in October last year and the only issue raised with us was with the paperwork.

“And we have received grants from the Department of Agriculture to run the place.

“All I can think is that someone must have made a complaint.

“We’ve been limited to 20 dogs and we’re going to try and appeal that to go to 30. We haven’t been closed down. What we’re going to do now is go into taking dogs in crisis, people who’ve lost their homes.

Pat Edwards with our reporter Patrick O’Connell

“With less than 20 dogs allowed, we can’t do that, that’s what we have to appeal about. Because we’ve got long-termers here.

“We’ve one dog here who is 18 years old and another who is 23 years old.

“They say we were hoarding them but they don’t understand the reasons the dogs were up here in the first place.

“The 23-year-old was dumped down here when she was 15.

“She spent five years living up under the log cabin then she moved into the hedge and then four years ago she finally walked in one day into the kitchen.

“She’s like a creeping Jesus to be honest with you, but it’s taken her years to trust us so she cannot be rehomed. This is her home.”

Ms Edwards said she accepted that conditions at the sanctuary have to be improved.

“We have to clean up … we have to put new kennels up,” she said. And we’re going to comply.

Bruno the dog at the site

“It’s going to cost a lot of money but we have some of our own money we can use as well … so we’ll just have to do it.”

As well as restricting the number of dogs that can be housed at the sanctuary, the Department notice also requires that Ms Edwards furnish inspectors with paperwork relating to veterinary care, animal movements in and out of the sanctuary, vaccinations, neuterings and rehoming procedures.

“We have to get the paperwork up to date by Monday but we’ll get that done as well,” she said.

“But the main thing is to get the work done on the facilities.

“We have a lot of welfare groups who have volunteered to come up and help us tidy up.

“At the end of the day what’s happened has happened so we have to deal with it. Because for a lot of the dogs, this place is their last chance.”

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos