What Can I Do?

Since I wrote the post about Fionn, the dog who survived against all odds, I’ve had a lot of thoughts churning around inside my brain.

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The animal welfare situation is the worst it’s ever been in Ireland.  On top of the usual abuse, misuse and neglect, there are many animals in crisis due to the recession.  Some people can’t afford veterinary care for their pets – hell, some people can’t even afford to feed their pets.  For some reason, many of these owners don’t turn to the animal rescue organisations – perhaps they’re afraid of censure?  Whatever the reason, starving and sick animals are being rescued on a daily basis.

Then there’s the people who emigrate, leaving the family pet behind.  There have been several stories in the news recently of the ISPCA being called to a house, which has been vacant for days or weeks, to rescue an animal that’s been left there, alone.  I’m tamping down the part of my brain that is screaming WHY? HOW CAN ANYONE POSSIBLY THINK THAT’S A GOOD IDEA? and I’m trying to just concentrate on the animals and their rescuers.  I just hope that I never read about canine skeletons being found in an abandoned house, but it’s a definite possibility.

I don’t know where to begin with the equine crisis…  horses, ponies and donkeys are being dumped and abandoned in their hundreds, if not thousands.  The horse meat scandal at the start of 2013 and the subsequent tightening up of regulations has meant that low-value horses have literally nowhere to go, so they are dumped; many of them injured, most of them starving.  Equine rescues are bursting at the seams, fosterers are hard to find and it seems to me that the only option right now is to offer an ‘amnesty’ of a humane destruction service – a cull, so to speak.   Believe me, a cull is not such a bad idea.  When you see the body of a horse that starved to death,  the ground all churned up around him as he thrashed around for days, unable to rise, or when you read about a pony that was stuck in a bog for a week before being finally found by the ISPCA, too weak for anything other than euthanasia, you realise that there are worse deaths than a bolt in the head.

My friend Oonagh has done an amazing job.  Her Charity Walk for Fionn was a huge success, with almost 1500 people walking to show their support for our four-legged friends.  All in all, it raised over €18,000 for the Cork Dog Animal Welfare Group.  She’s since met with the minister for agriculture, Simon Coveney, and has come away with the news that new animal welfare legislation will be introduced within three months.  These are some of the highlights :

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Finally, the animals have a voice!  And it’s all thanks to this :

But what can I do myself?  I’ve donated to a couple of charities, I’ve promoted Oonagh’s walk, I’ve emailed the minister.  Could I do more?  Could we take in another dog?  Well, why not?  If we adopt another dog, we’re effectively rescuing two – the one we give a home to and the one who will fill the space it vacates.

So I started to peruse the websites of some Irish organisations.

Would they allow a dog to come to France?  I received a rapid “Yes” to that query.

Would the LSH be open to the idea of a third dog?  I cautiously broached the subject and was surprised with his enthusiasm!

We’d like a youngish dog, we agreed.  One that will play with Cookie but it must have a gentle nature so it isn’t mean to poor little Cinnamon!

Not too big, we agreed.  It has to fit in the back of a Fiat 500.

We’ve narrowed our choices down to two and I’m waiting to hear back from the rescue organisation.  I’ve been waiting a while, but they’re all volunteers there and I know that they’re under pressure.  I can wait.

Then I noticed that the Animal Refuge in Manosque was having an Adoption Day in the big pet store where we buy our dog food.  Let’s go along and have a look, I suggested.  Just to see what’s there in case it turns out we can’t take an Irish dog.  Ok, said Himself.

I mentioned it to our friends, Sprocket and Doodles.  They’ve nearly finished their massive house renovations and they’re looking out for a dog.  Would they like to come along?  Sure, they said.

So to make a long story short, this is Gari, the luckiest dog in France.

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He doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be going home with these guys, hopefully in the next week or two.  He’s got to have a vet visit first, to be neutered and have his vaccinations, but then he’ll be ready.  He is going to have such a brilliant life with them!  He’ll be spoiled, walked, trained (Sprocket has had a few rescue dogs through his hands over the years), spoiled, brought everywhere with them, fed, groomed, bathed, spoiled.  And did I say spoiled?

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He’s such a sweet, gentle dog, about a year and a half old.  He was willing to play with Cookie and was super-gentle with Cinnamon when they sniffed noses.  We keep saying “If you change your mind, we’ll take him” but they’re not listening 😀

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They’re planning to visit him in the refuge every day so that he gets to know them before he comes home.  They’re hoping to be allowed to keep him in their flat.  If not, he may have to stay in the refuge until the middle of March, when their house will be ready.  My fingers are crossed that he’ll be home with them sooner rather than later.

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Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for news.

I’ll keep you posted.

PS Fionn the fighter is up for adoption now.  I’m tempted to ask, but in reality, I think he’d be too big for us.  Are any of my Irish or English readers interested?

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17 thoughts on “What Can I Do?

  1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on a couple of points, Lisa. If the bolt is used correctly, it’s instantaneous. No clipping of the neck, no needle trauma, no panic as the drugs start to bite, nothing. I don’t need to look at videos, I’ve held a pony with a broken leg while the vet put the gun to his head. It was traumatic for ME, but the pony knew nothing and that’s the way I would go if I’m ever (God forbid) in that situation again.
    Abattoirs should be operated in such a way that the animals (all species) are respected i.e. they are not confined in small spaces in large numbers, they don’t see each other being killed and they don’t see the carcasses of others. If the operators use the gun correctly (and THAT, I think, is the biggest issue) then they’re dead before they hit the floor.
    I totally agree with you about transport for slaughter though. For years Irish horses were shoved into trucks and brought to the continent. Thankfully that is no longer permitted although there are whispers that it’s still happening illegally.
    It is a horrible issue to have to discuss on my normally light and fluffy blog!!! but we can’t stick our heads in the sand, we have to accept that abuse, neglect and mistreatment are happening all over the world and do what we can to ease the lives and deaths of these unfortunate creatures.

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  2. What we ALL can do is speak out, take home a rescue, donate to the cause, all which you have done and I’d like to do as well. Heck, if I had a trailer, I’d be at the auction houses, taking home all the unwanted horses. I’m currently dog-less, but plan to fix that when my life settles a bit. As for horses, I can take no more, but support any rescue group I can. Yes, we’ve banned horse slaughter in the States, but I’d like to see it banned all over. Shipping horses to Canada and Mexico is probably the worse thing that can happen to a horse in the U.S. The bolt is not a humane way to kill a horse (see the soul-shattering videos online), so I can’t condone it. At least euthanize horses humanely, as many rescue have done after getting horses out of the slaughter pipeline in order to end their suffering decently. I’d say breeders are to blame, and in the racing world, they need to step up to the plate for after care. Of our 3 OTTB’s, only one was a purchase, the others were rescues of a sort–free because nobody else wanted them. I wish I could do so much more as it breaks my heart to hear about these abused/neglected/abandoned animals. Good for you and the LSH for taking on another! And for writing a thought-provoking post. Good luck with the new pup.

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  3. 😀 I’m not in a position to take on a rescue at the moment and can only send the occasional donation when finances permit. Absolutely delighted that there will be two less dogs to break my heart over.

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  4. Wow your friend is amazing, raising all that money! Can I ask, why, if they know where he came from has there been no prosecution?

    I have been awol from WP , must get writing again x

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    • They identified the hunt club, who identified the members responsible, who have been barred from the club.
      Insufficient, IMO.
      The trouble with prosecution is, how do you prove wrongdoing?
      The dog was thin – “oh he escaped two weeks ago, we’ve been looking for him”
      Why didn’t you notify anyone that he was missing? “We never thought of it (duh)/we were sure we knew he was in those woods and we’d catch him eventually/we didn’t want to get in trouble with our club”
      The dog was covered in sores – “god knows what happened him during the two weeks he was missing”
      The dog had a fractured skull – “oh, he must have been hit by a car.”

      Yeah. We all know that’s not the way it happened, but how to prove it?

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  5. The world needs more people like you and your friends to be active and vocal about animal abuse. Any dog that comes to live with you will be very lucky. I’m so happy your friends are taking that adorable rescue pup. It seems it falls to a few with good hearts to counteract the many with abusive personalities. I’ll never understand how anyone can abandon and animal or mistreat it. We have the same problems here. Good luck with your future works for these poor animals.

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  6. What can you do? I think you’ve done a tremendous amount. Bless you, and karma will smile on you.
    What you are experiencing is something that’s been ongoing forever here in the States. In the last several years, thousands of horses have been dumped, dropped off, or just plain allowed to starve to death. An acquaintance of mine trailered hers and a friends horses to go riding in the local state forest-and when they returned, someone had tied TWO more horses to the trailer with a note, God bless you for taking our horses, we can’t afford them any more.
    Another horse was found wandering the same forest, some time later, having been shot-TWICE-in the head and left for dead.
    This all began when a bunch of bleeding hearts decided that auction yards and slaughter houses that took horses were Bad, and therefore should be stopped. Their argument was-and continues to be, that Americans don’t eat horsemeat. (we never claimed to, and the horsemeat doesn’t hit our tables.)
    THey succeeded in making it illegal to slaughter a horse.
    They did not take into account the thousands of horses that for a myriad of reasons is no longer wanted. That problem was not their concern.
    Now, the only way to get rid of a horse is to either 1. abandon it on state land 2. put it on a truck and ship it to Canada or Mexico.
    The trucks are sometimes pulling doubledecker trailers. The horses on the bottom level are rained with excrement from the horses above them. It takes a few days to get to the border. They don’t stop for breaks for the horses. No food. No water. Once they’re crammed on the trucks, they STAY crammed on the trucks until they reach Yellow Knife or Mexico City. THey shove pregnant mares, foals, stallions, geldings all together, and if one falls-tough luck.
    The Indian Tribes and our state and national parks are used as dumping grounds for horses.
    As for cats and dogs-anywhere in the rural US, it’s not at all uncommon to look out your front door and see a strange dog on the porch. Sometime in the night, someone drops them off. The looks on their faces is heartbreaking. And they’re the lucky ones. Especially cats-there are sickos in this country who justify torturing a cat in the most hideous and cruel ways by saying “I don’t like cats’. Well, I don’t like animal abusers, either, but solely due to their genus and species, I can’t shoot them dead. (well, I could, but I don’t want to go to prison for killing someone who has it coming.)
    Why they don’t take them to the animal shelter, I don’t know. Our animal shelters are overwhelmed with unwanted animals. Most animal shelters don’t bother to come out and collect or help strays outside of the city limits, so we country folk are on our own. Our local animal shelter has a night drop off-drive up, open one of the doors, put the animal in the kennel and off you go..no questions asked, no money needed…but still, people drop them off.

    It drives me mad. It breaks my heart.

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    • I can’t imagine coming back to my trailer and finding two strange horses tied onto it. It sounds like a bad joke! But I could see that happening in Ireland now, the way things have gone.
      Yeah, I’ve followed the anti-slaughter stuff in the US. It sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it – “No, we never allow a horse to be slaughtered in our country” but then you see the reality of this situation, where there is nowhere for unwanted horses and they end up facing abandonment or horrific transport conditions instead.. Humane slaughter and the subsequent rendering costs money and many people just can’t (or won’t) pay for it.
      We lived about five miles from the centre of Cork city. Over the years, we had a procession of stray dogs dumped at our gates. Some of them we kept, most of them we managed to rehome. 15, 20 years ago the (only) local shelter had a dreadful reputation and I guess people may have thought their dogs had a better chance of a future if they dumped them in the country. Now, there are numerous shelters, NONE of whom will euthanise a healthy animal. There ARE options, yet people don’t avail of them. Why? Who knows.

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    • Thanks Lori & Allison. The only dog I ever bought was a bearded collie, 25 years ago. My dream breed! What a character she was… but I look at my two little rats now and you know what? They’re characters too.

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  7. Hi Martine – another amazing blog from you. Just to touch on the equine cull comment. The Minister is VERY much against this option, but after exploring several options – his hands are tied.. not only are many rescues full, many others simply dont want them. The main problem with all these excess unwanted horses is due to the greediness of the breeders in the boom time – then the recession hit – and they are left with all these horses they cant sell. One of his points, as to why he doesnt want to cull them is because it will fall on the tax payer to take this hit to pay for the human euthansia – which even he doesn’t agreed with because why should the already long term suffering people like you and I, pay for the greed of these people. But as horses are one of the animals closest to his heart, he also cant bear to see them suffering and I have to agree with you – surely ending their life, is so much kinder than them having to go hungry cold and sick.
    He is under no illusion that these new laws wont solve animal cruelty overnight, but after meeting with him and seeing the sincerity in his eyes, I do believe that this man will turn around the suffering of our animals, for the better, even if it takes him a few years to do so.
    Your friends new dog is gorgeous – I wish them a lovely life together 🙂

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    • Thanks for that Oonagh, I know the idea of a cull is abhorrent to many. A few years ago I would have been whole-heartedly opposed, but I cannot see an alternative, despite the trojan efforts being made by so many equine organisations.

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  8. €18,000, wow! That’s amazing! Interesting that some of the new proposals for Ireland are already in place in Italy,the first, second and last on the list. It doesn’t stop this sort of stuff from happening, more due to a lack of follow up, but you certainly don’t see the likes of what is happening in UK& Ireland just now. Really hope changes will make the difference for future animals. Fingers crossed for the new family member and for Fionn =)

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    • That’s wierd, Sharon, I would never have thought of Italy as being in the forefront of animal welfare! But as you say, it’s all about enforcement, which may be the stumbling block for Ireland. The problem is that enforcement costs money and Ireland (like Italy) is broke.

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