South Tipperary animal rescue shelter PAWS had a full house over Christmas and two of its new arrivals were two emaciated boxer dogs abandoned on the side of the road in the Thomastown area near Golden.
Gina Hetherington, who runs the PAWS shelter near Mullinahone, said two starving boxers were in an horrific condition with their bones protruding through the skins when they took them into their care a few days before Christmas but sadly it was just one example of the cases of cruelty, neglect and abandonment of dogs they have come across in the last few months.
Sixteen year-old Shane Gubbins from Thomastown discovered the dogs walking aimlessly in a circle on the road outside his home on Sunday, December 18. Shortly before, a black car had turned at their gate and afterwards the Gubbins family’s two pet dogs, a Labrador and Jack Russell started barking excitedly.
“The two boxers looked just horrendous. They were pure skin and bone. We brought them into the house and gave them some food but they didn’t eat it and we gave them hot water bottles. We brought them food again, I never saw dogs to eat so savagely.”
The Gubbins family asked for PAWS help and dropped the abandoned boxers off to the shelter on Thursday, December 22 where they have been cared for since.
Gina Hetherington believes they were ex-breeding dogs and hopes they are micro-chipped so that they will able to trace the owners who abandoned them, and report them to the ISPCA.
“If you don’t want an animal bring it to a shelter or to the vet to put it down. To just dump them on the side of the road is just dreadful.”
Another case that shocked Gina in recent months was that of a Labrador suffering from diabetes, who was allowed fade away to skin and bone by its owner, who made up a story claiming the dog was abandoned by a neighbour’s family when he contacted PAWS.
Gina said the man initially told her a neighbour had died and the family had come down from Dublin, locked the dog in the shed and gone back home but later told one of the workers at the shelter a different version. She confronted him to find out the real story and he eventually confessed that he was the dog’s owner.
“He hadn’t treated her diabetes after giving her the first course of insulin and when she faded away to nothing he contacted us. She was just between eight and ten kilograms in weight and locked in a shed.”
Gina said they spent about €600 getting the Labrador treated at the South View Veterinary Clinic in Clonmel, and the dog’s owner didn’t contribute anything to those medical costs.
The Labrador was such a sweet and beautiful animal despite the ordeal it has been through. It has now returned to good health and Gina has sent her to the highly respected Dogs Trust charity in London.
She agrees that the fact some people can no longer afford to keep their pets due to the financial strains they are under because of the recession is one of the reasons for the increase in cases of abandoned and neglected dogs but she believes some people are just using money problems as a convenient excuse.
Despite increasing demand for its services, PAWS, like other animal charities has suffered funding cuts, and is dependent more than ever on fund-raising and public donations.
The PAWS charity shop opened in the former First Editions boutique premises on Gladstone Street in Clonmel in September to raise much needed funds for the shelter. Gina points out that the store sells a range of animal related gifts as well as second hand clothing and items.
Anyone wishing to donate to PAWS can do so by contacting Gina Hetherington at (052) 9153507.