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Massive surge in older dogs discovered straying, injured or abandoned by owners

In the past 12 months, there has been a 40pc rise in owners getting rid of older dogs, said Gillian Bird, DSPCA spokeswoman
'Many dogs we rescued were living in the most horrific conditions'

'Many dogs we rescued were living in the most horrific conditions'

Alan O'Keeffe

A big increase in the abandonment or surrender of older dogs in 2021 has been reported by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA).

Often these older dogs have been found injured or straying and are not reclaimed by their owners.

In the past 12 months, there has been a 40pc rise in owners getting rid of older dogs, said Gillian Bird, DSPCA spokeswoman.

“Sadly, there are people who don’t want their dogs when they get older, often when they become smelly or sick or become blind or deaf or develop cancers and the owners may be scared off by the prospect of bills for treatments.

“We would urge people to make New Year Resolutions to keep up to date with their vaccinations, flea treatments, worm treatments, and to bring their dog to the vet at least once a year,” she said.

Three charities concerned with animal welfare have highlighted the need for the proper care of pets in 2022.

Overall, there has been a big increase in dog ownership in Ireland since the pandemic began. She said there has also been a big rise in the numbers of people coming to the DSPCA’s subsidised clinic in Dublin seeking advice.

“It is never any harm for a person who has a pet to have a re-think if the pet is right for them, new or old.

DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird

DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird

"If a person is having difficulties with their pet, there is no shame in putting a hand up to say they need help. It is more responsible to admit making a mistake and to seek help in training or to hand over a pet for re-homing in a more suitable home,” she said.

There are many people who are happy to adopt an old dog or to take on the responsibility for a dog with behaviour issues.

“I have great respect for those people,” she said.

Corina Fitzsimons, spokeswoman for the Dogs Trust Ireland charity, said she is appealing for people to open their hearts to rescue dogs.

“People who adopt a dog should have realistic expectations and give the dog time to settle in to a new home. They cannot expect a dog to begin behaving well without any training. Dogs are delighted when they are shown that they are pleasing their owner.”

More than 2,000 people who telephoned the charity last year said they were struggling with a new pet. The charity runs training classes.

She said families with young children should not get an older dog but seek out a puppy instead.

“It is hugely important to get dogs from a reliable source. A website run by vets named only carries dogs from reputable breeders,” she said.

It was also a busy 2021 for animal welfare inspectors working for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA). They uncovered more than 20 illegal puppy farms, removing hundreds of vulnerable dogs and puppies from unscrupulous breeders.

Inspectors have seized or had surrendered to them more than 620 dogs in 2021, over 300 of which have come from illegal dog breeders.

In a statement to the Sunday World, ISPCA chief inspector Conor Dowling said: “Many dogs and puppies we rescued were living in the most horrific conditions you could imagine, often caged with little to no room to move or escape their own faeces and urine.

"Seldom there is clean drinking water, adequate food or bedding and often they are kept in darkness with no access to fresh air or daylight.

“Such cruelty and neglect causes serious health, psychological and behavioural issues. Fear and lack of socialisation means they will need to stay in ISPCA care for longer periods of time before they can be responsibly rehomed.”

The ISPCA has nine authorised officers in 16 counties.

“Unfortunately, there are many areas in Ireland that ISPCA Inspectors are currently unable to reach. We are having a huge impact but we could do so much more if we had more resources,” he said

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