ASH Animal Sanctuary advises dog owners to ensure their pets are safe when they are outdoors due to an increase in the number of dogs reported stolen, when in fact they have gone missing after to have escaped.
he Kiltegan-based animal sanctuary is operated by Helena and RÃ©mi Le Mahieu, who currently care for more than 40 dogs.
Helena believes there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people reporting that their dogs have been stolen after the animal was rescued after it was found to be stray in a poor condition.
âWe had a recent case here where we took in a dog that was in very poor condition. Two days later the owners contacted us to tell us the dog had been stolen three weeks ago. If your dog went missing three weeks ago and is then left with us, it has not been stolen. He is in fact lost and hungry. People often say âwe leave the dog in the yard, which is open, but our dog would never run awayâ.
âOwning a dog is a huge responsibility, which goes well beyond Christmas. If the dog lives indoors with the family, of course you want to keep them outside to enjoy the outdoors, but they need to be safe. If your dog was stolen, you wouldn’t find it three weeks later near you. Someone would have been trying to make money from the dog if he had stolen it. Not having a safe and secure space outside for your dog is another way of not taking responsibility for your pet.
At this time of year, at the end of Christmas, many people have had puppies and kittens for themselves and their children, often not realizing how much to care for and the cost. that this implied.
âYou have to think very seriously if you are planning to have a pet for Christmas,â Helena said.
âA dog should be part of the family and shouldn’t be kept outside to watch the family gathered around the fire, especially now that the weather is getting colder. I don’t have the feeling that no one should have a dog on Christmas. A good house is a good house, whatever the time of year. However, if you’re not 100 percent committed, don’t. Go out there and buy yourself a stuffed toy instead.
There has been an increase in the number of pet owners during the lockdown, which has raised concerns that many of these pets will be abandoned once the company reopens. So far, Helena is grateful to say that has not been the case.
âUsually the busiest time of year for unwanted and abandoned pets is between Halloween and Christmas, but that didn’t really happen this year. It is generally at this time of year that some dogs are past their welcome. However, we are picking up more dogs that are extremely neglected and still have not been microchipped six years after the legislation was introduced. We recently picked up six to seven dogs in the area, from Knockananna to Dunlavi, and none of them were microchipped.
Ash is also currently home to a number of cats and kittens, as well as smaller animals, such as rabbits.
âWe have 70 rabbits in our house right now. It only takes one family to think that it would be fun to have a male and female rabbit, but after 14 babies, they soon realize that it is no fun at all.
âWe also find a lot of very young and sick kittens. We picked seven at St Kevin’s School in Dunlavin, and a girl working here with work experience said there were another seven still there. It is not easy to tell where they come from. People find a single kitten howling in their yard, but it is not always clear where they came from. They must be collected and sterilized.