Animal Welfare in Ireland
Every year, thousands of unwanted animals are destroyed. The figure of 21,357 dogs put to sleep in 2002 does not include other animals, such as horses, who had to be destroyed because they were so neglected. This figure also does not take into account the countless healthy puppies and kittens who were poisoned, drowned or killed by other cruel means, simply because they were considered a "nuisance" by their owners.
A dog who is brought into the pound by a dog warden has five days within which to be reclaimed by their owner. After this time, the dog may be put to sleep. A dog that is surrendered to the pound may be put to sleep within 24 hours.
In 2002, 26,354 dogs passed through Irish pounds, only 4,987 were re-homed or re-claimed by their owners. The rest of these dogs were killed. In 2003 over 18,000 were killed. In 2004, 16, 598 were euthanised and in 2005, 16,506 unwanted dogs were put to sleep.
Its "just an animal"
Mammals have emotions
It is a common misconception that all animals are "dumb" and don't really have any feelings. This is not true, higher mammals have a fairly well developed limbic system. This means that they have most basic emotions, such as love, fear and anger. This is the reason we believe that animals should be treated with kindness and care, and it is a pet owners responsibility that these needs are catered for, as well as the more basic needs of food, water and shelter.
If you interact with an animal that has been abused, you can see the results in the animals behaviour. Such animals often cower when approached by people.
Why are there so many unwanted animals?
Not Spayed and Neutered
The first reason why their are so many unwanted animals in Ireland is because many people fail to have their animals spayed and neutered. Even if an animal is intended to be kept supervised at all times while in public, animals are clever and curious creatures and often "escape" from their gardens to go on adventures. Many dogs can clear 6 foot walls, and small dogs can wiggle through surprisingly small spaces in their fence!
Even though it is illegal to allow your dog to roam the street, many people still let their dog out. Apart from the dangers of loose dogs being hit by a car or worrying farm animals, roaming dogs also contribute to unwanted litters of pups.
Lack of planning before getting a pet
Other factors that lead to abandonment of pets is that people do not carefully consider what a pet needs before they take one home.
Many people do not take into consideration their own lifestyle when choosing a pet. Many types of dogs require alot of exercize and mental stimulation, which requires time. When these dogs are left alone in a garden for 8 hours 5 days a week, they may become hyperactive and uncontrollable. This may lead to the owner then deciding that they do not want to deal with this problem, and they simply abandon their pet or drop it off at the pound.
Other life events may prompt dog owners to abandon their pet, including the birth of a new baby, foreign vacations or even a new partner that dislikes their pet.
In order that you do not find yourself in a situation where you cannot keep your pet, planning is paramount!
You must make sure that you have an alternative place where your pet will be cared for if you go on holidays or become sick yourself and unable to care for your pet. If you do not have an alternative place, you must ensure that you can afford to pay for kennelling while you are away.
If you think you might be unable to pay for vetrinary care in the case where your animal should require an operation or other costly treatment, then you might consider insuring your pet. This can be done for a few euros per month.
Make sure you have enough time and motivation to exercize your dog. You dog needs to be taken out EVERY day for a walk.
Consider what you will do if your own circumstances change. What will happen if you move house or have a new baby?
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