The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) has launched an "urgent fundraiser" to tackle the post-COVID increase in the number of surrendered pets.
The Dublin-based animal welfare charity is now reporting they are at "full capacity" and are reliant on donations from the public in order to fund the purchase of an x-ray machine.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, DSPCA fundraising manager Suzanne McGovern said a combination of COVID adoptions and the cost of living crisis has led to an increase in surrendered pets.
"We have never seen it as bad," she said.
"Our intake has increased by about 40% – our call centre would receive multiple calls every day from owners wishing to surrender their pets.
"We can take them in when we have space but at the moment we're completely filled to capacity."
Ms McGovern said people "rushed out" during COVID to adopt or purchase pets, but did not anticipate "a huge amount of investment in regard to training, socialisation, and including that pet in your daily life."
"It's not easy sometimes to own a dog and they can present little issues and things along the way," she said.
"You owe it to that pet to do everything you can in your power to keep them with you.
"We are here to help and advise people if they are struggling."
It never gets easy seeing them so sad. Albie was one of those dogs that instantly melted & broke our hearts all at the same time. He was so disorientated & afraid & now he’s a happy go lucky puppy & ready to melt your heart! Adopt him 👉🏼 https://t.co/j62ufVTghX 🐾 #AdoptDontShop pic.twitter.com/WKMFACwlwW
— DSPCA (@DublinSPCA) June 10, 2023
Surrender or abandon
While the DSPCA take requests from pet owners to accept animals they wish to surrender, Ms McGovern said animals are often abandoned at the facilities.
"We've recently had pets that have been left at a gate overnight, tied up to a fence," she said.
"Staff would have left late one night and they heard a bark and somewhere deep into the bush, there were two dogs tied up.
"One had gotten loose so there was a harness and a lead still attached to the fence.
"It was extremely cold that particular night so they may not have survived – they could have been injured, anything could have happened.
"People just need to be responsible pet owners and look after their pets."
Ms McGovern said she feels sympathetic toward pet owners who must give their animals up for adoption due to "genuine cases where people are struggling with a particular problem in their lives."
"I don't have sympathy for people that would just give up for little or no reason or just don't have the time," she said.
"We have a mobile vet clinic that goes out to low-income areas during the week. So, there are facilities there that we can help people if they're really struggling and support them."
Tune into @NewstalkFM at 10.15am to find out about our fundraiser to buy a new X-Ray machine that is desperately needed for the shelter @PatKennyNT 🐾 Please donate here to help us https://t.co/Xg9ceZ4pAC 🐶 Thank you #donate #AnimalRescue #Animalwelfare #dspca pic.twitter.com/4wLuxALPbm
— DSPCA (@DublinSPCA) June 19, 2023
Animals that come to the clinic often are experiencing a myriad of health issues.
"Most of them will be either sick, they'll be injured, there will be advanced stages of neglect, there could be road traffic accidents, all sorts of injuries," Ms McGovern said.
"It's not just physical stuff – it's mental as well. They'll be shut down if they've been abandoned by an owner and they've been part of a family.
"Those dogs are traumatised and I see it every day – we have to unravel all of their anxieties, help them get better, rehabilitate them and then find them a new home."
In this instance, the DSPCA is fundraising specifically to purchase a new x-ray machine for injured animals.
The organisation must fundraise €29,000 to replace the "critical" unit and currently has €13,000 left to raise.
Donations can be made at the DSPCA website, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01 499 4717.
Pet owners who are struggling to take care of their animals can seek help from the DSPCA.
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The main image shows a DSPCA staff member with a rescue dog (Photo by DSPCA).