Spay Aware Ireland - Archive May 2010


Dealing with the realities of the dog overpopulation in Ireland

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

You may wonder why “cute puppies” are used by Spay Week Ireland in our efforts to persuade people NOT to produce cute puppies. We agree that it’s a bit of a paradox, and it would be more “truthful” to have a photoshoot with some examples of the undernourished, sickly, unwanted dogs that are the result of the surplus of dogs in Ireland. Some have even suggested that we use photos of dead dogs in our press releases.

The fact is that if we want to get our message across to people, we have to attract their attention via the media, and in particular, the newspapers. And there’s no way that unsavoury photographs would be printed. So we might feel that we were presenting the situation more truthfully, but nobody would get a chance to see the shocking photos. So what would be achieved? We would lose the opportunity to spread our important message.

Many of our supporters feel that we ought to show more of the rough side of the world of stray dogs, and they’ve posted this type of footage to the Spay Week Ireland Facebook page. If you have any doubt about the scale of the problem in Ireland, please visit our Facebook page to see for yourself.

Newstalk presenter Claire highlights deadly toll of unwanted Irish pets

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Spay Awareness Launch 2010

Left to right: Pete Wedderburn of VICAS on the left, Claire Byrne in the centre, and Mark Beazley of Dogs Trust Ireland on the right. Oh, and those very cute pups again.

Newstalk 106 presenter Claire Byrne was in the doghouse today (Wednesday 26/05/2010) after speaking out against Ireland’s continued reliance on euthanasia to solve the country’s unwanted pet problem.

Most recent figures from the Department of the Environment show that an average 18 dogs were put down for every single day of the year in Irish dog pounds in 2009. While this represented a drop of 35% compared to 2008, it still added up to the shocking destruction of 6,476 unwanted dogs over the entire year.

“While it’s good to see that number falling, the destruction of even a single pet in this way is still one too many, so there remains a lot of work to do to put an end to this terrible toll,” says the Newstalk Breakfast Show anchor.

Claire was speaking at the launch of Spay Week Ireland 2010, the annual awareness campaign that aims to end the destruction by encouraging more owners to spay or neuter their pets.

To highlight Ireland’s deadly daily dog destruction rate, Claire and television vet Pete Wedderburn shared the cameras with a selection of 18 abandoned puppies and dogs, which are being cared for by staff at the new Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Finglas.

“The fall in the destruction rate shows that the spay and neuter message is getting through, but even the lower figures still leaves us among Europe’s worst offenders when it comes to disposing of unwanted dogs,” Pete Wedderburn says.

“A comparison of the figures shows that on a per capita basis, we still destroy ten times as many unwanted dogs as our nearest neighbour in the UK. In Ireland, we still have a situation where two out of every five homeless dogs are destroyed.”

While no official figures are available in respect of unwanted cats, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that stray and abandoned felines die at an even higher rate. According to one estimate, a staggering 180,000 kittens die each year within a week of birth.

The key role played by animal welfare charities and other groups in finding new homes for abandoned pets is highlighted by the DoE figures, which show that 9,921 dogs were rehomed from Irish pounds in 2009.

This welcome trend has been reinforced by the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre, which according to Executive Director Mark Beazley has found homes for over 500 abandoned dogs since it opened last November.

Spay Week 2010 this year takes place from Sunday May 30th until Saturday June 6th next and is supported by VICAS (Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society), Dogs Trust and a nationwide network of vets, animal welfare volunteers and charities. The campaign promotes the message that the only way to end the toll is for people to take a more responsible attitude to pet ownership by ensuring their cats and dogs are neutered of spayed.

With the support of Dogs Trust, hundreds of vets across the country participate in a subsidised neutering campaign that offers dog owners on means-tested social welfare benefits the opportunity to have their pets spayed or neutered for a nominal fee of €20. Since 2005 Dogs Trust has spent in excess of €5 million neutering or spaying over 40,000 dogs. Across the country, many charities also offer local discounted neutering schemes for those who are unable to afford normal veterinary fees.

According to Pete Wedderburn spaying or neutering is not only crucial to ending the plight of Ireland’s unwanted cats and dogs, it also offers significant health benefits to pets.

“There are a lot of myths about spaying and neutering such as that it is supposed make dogs and cats fat and lazy, that it changes their personalities or that females should have at least one litter. The truth is that spaying or neutering is good for your pet’s health. The risk of cancer plummets, they’re less likely to be aggressive and they live longer as a result.”