My struggle with animal welfare charities and a possible solution

Many of you will know that I am passionate about my dogs and animal welfare. I advocate for adopting rather than buying pets and for neutering your cats and dogs to help keep the animal population at a sustainable level, which will hopefully mean less cats and dogs ending up in animal shelters.

In the past I volunteered with a local animal shelter and also fostered for them. I’m no longer involved with that charity. I don’t really feel like going into details about why, but essentially I was uncomfortable with the direction the management was taking the shelter and I no longer felt I could support them.

6 week old pit bull puppiesThere has been a fair amount of bad press recently around several animal welfare ‘charities’ in Ireland. It’s all left me feeling very hurt and disillusioned to be honest. There are so many amazing people out there fighting their hardest to improve the lives of animals in Ireland, who have dedicated their lives to the cause. And these so called charities are somewhat undermining the work they are doing.

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about something someone said to me recently. We were talking about how difficult it is to know which charities are worth supporting (both my time and/or money) and my friend suggested that

One way of supporting animal welfare charities is to pay your donation directly off their vet bills.

You see the thing is that most animal welfare charities have huge vet bills, even if they have negotiated a good rate with their vet, they are still going to rack up big bills. At the very least animals in their care should receive vaccinations and be neutered before being rehomed (or be neutered when they reach a suitable age). And some animals may need vet care for small illnesses or even more complex treatment. So if there is a charity you would like to donate to but aren’t sure about their credibility then why not contact them and ask for their vet’s details and pay your donation directly off their bill.

(c) halfadreamaway.com

(c) halfadreamaway.com

This makes so much sense to me in so many ways. For one if a charity is reluctant to let you do this you’ll know pretty quickly that they may not be worthy of your donation. And it also means that you know that your money is going directly to helping the animals and not on promotion or other costs. I often read appeals for different animal welfare charities on Facebook, and from now on I will definitely use this approach so I can still feel like I’m involved and like I’m making a difference in the lives of animals, without potentially being taken advantage of. This will give me so much more confidence in donating again to animal welfare charities.

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Puppy Love

I’ve been pretty quiet for the last few weeks. The main reason is that all my focus has been taken by Capstone project, which is essentially a group thesis. Working on a thesis is stressful enough, but working in a group brings it’s own challenges. Maybe I’ll write a little more about our project some other time.

Foster pups 046Right now I have puppy pics to share. I hadn’t planned to foster puppies while I’m working on the Capstone, as I had planned to work from the library and wouldn’t be around the house every day. Plus, our last foster didn’t work out so well. Daisy was a Staffie X, I love Staffies, love them but this puppy was crossed with a Collie and even at 10 weeks old was bigger than Ollie and Mia. They didn’t like that very much, a huge puppy bounding at them, so she went to another foster family for her own sake.

Puppy 2Anyway, last Friday I was up at the shelter and a litter of 8 puppies and their mum were coming back from a foster home to get their first vaccination and microchipping. They were separated from mum and paired off to go back into new foster homes for another three weeks, until a week after they’ve had their second vaccinations. Well 8 puppies running around my feet, who could resist.

Puppy 1I weakened, so now I’m working from home and having so much fun with this pair. They’re so easy to have around. With the heatwave we’ve been having we’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden or with the back door open, so we’ve had very few accidents in the house. They’re great at helping with the stress, when things are getting tough with the Capstone one of them will bound across the room and make me laugh.

These two ladies will be available for adoption through the DSPCA, subject to suitability assessment, home check and rehoming fee.

So busy…

I have 4 weeks of lectures left in my Masters and I am literally up to my eyes. As the Dowager Countess of Grantham so succinctly put it “What is a weekend?“.

I have finished a shawl and am half way through another, but haven’t gotten around to blocking or photographing either yet. Soon, maybe.

Dexter 8 week old Jack Russell foster puppy

But I do have a foster puppy called Dexter at the moment. Isn’t he a cutie? Dexter is an 8 week old Jack Russell puppy. His mum was tragically found dead and the kind members of the public who went to check to see whether she was dead or just injured found a 5 week old Dexter beside her. Mum wasn’t so lucky unfortunately, but now little Dexter is thriving.

He’s been with us for three weeks and is great fun to have around. He’s the perfect antidote to all the assignments I have stacked up at the moment. He’s getting his first vaccinations on Thursday will be ready to find his  forever home a few weeks after that. He’s been no trouble at all – he’s so tiny, and although not house trained, when he does go to the toilet it’s pretty tiny too. He’s got the softest coat and has quite long hair, not like most Jack Russells I know so he might be crossed with something else.

Ok, enough puppy talk from me and back to work…

Scruff monsters

My scruff monsters Ollie and Mia are heading to the groomer tomorrow so here are some ‘before’ shots.

Pre Grooming 012They haven’t been groomed since last November so their hair has gotten really long. Of course this is better for the winter, it keeps them nice and warm but their hair matts very easily so it’s a constant battle to get rid of matts as they appear.

Pre Grooming 011So tomorrow they are getting their hair cut very short. They are usually quite cold for a few days after being groomed but I have a few doggie jumpers I can pop on them. So bye bye scruff buckets, I can’t wait to see them with their new haircuts tomorrow.

UPDATED:

Colour Affection 004So here they are post groom. Totally different dogs but I’m sure much more comfortable.

Ollie and Mia

Ashby 078

This post is really just an excuse for me to share some photos of my Ollie and Mia. These photos were taken on the beach while I was taking photos of my Ashby shawl. We get stopped all the time when we’re going for walks so people can say hello and ask questions. I’m always quick to say that they’re rescue dogs to help dispel the myth that rescue dogs are are ugly mutts with behavioural problems. And Ollie and Mia love the attention.

Ashby 045I’ve written about Ollie and Mia before. The first photo is Ollie, he’s a Shih Tzu Terrier X and will be four this April. The photo just above is Mia, she’s a Chihuahua Yorkie X. She’s about two and a half now. They bring such fun and happiness into our lives. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hard work. Mia can be an absolute demon, but they are my babies and they are such a huge part of our lives. I hope you like the photos.

Lil Alvin

Alvin came to the DSPCA as a cruelty case when he was just a tiny puppy. When the inspectors picked him up he has a fractured skull and was immediately treated by the vets at the shelter.

One of his front paws was also deformed because of an old break that didn’t heal properly and it needed to be amputated, although they needed to wait until Alvin was strong enough for the operation. Alvin has been in foster care with one of the members of staff from the shelter. You can see more photos of Alvin on the DSPCA Facebook page.

Alvin had surgery a few weeks ago and is now doing great running around on three legs. However even at seven months he’s only a teeny tot and had been really feeling the cold since his operation. His foster mom couldn’t find a dog coat small enough so I knit him a special little jumper with leftovers from my hot water bottle cover as part of the Pawsitive Knits project. Despite everything Alvin has been through he’s a happy little puppy and a total cutie and is rocking his new jumper.

Heartbroken

“I would find it too difficult to give them back.”

Katie and Taylor at 4 weeks old

Katie and Taylor at 4 weeks old

This is the most common reaction when I say I’m fostering puppies. And the most common reason people have for not doing it.

And yes, it is hard to give them back. I’m heartbroken. We even spent the weekend after giving them back agonising about adopting Taylor, before deciding that three dogs was too much, especially as she will be so much bigger than Ollie and Mia.

Katie and Taylor at 10 weeks old

Katie and Taylor at 10 weeks old

I worry about them because of their breed more than any other puppy we have fostered. I wonder what kind of life they will have and hope with all my heart that they find a wonderful forever home who will love them as a member of the family.

It’s hard to give them back, but it’s worth it. And it gets easier each time and also with time. It’s so rewarding knowing you’ve given them a good start in life. And surely the pain of giving them back is worth it for all the joy they gave us while they were here. And the pain is worth it knowing that you gave two homeless puppies the chance at a better life.

So do it, if the only thing holding you back from fostering is the thoughts of giving them back, just do it.  As Garth Brooks once sang: “I could have missed the pain. But I’d of had to miss the dance”.

Week 5: Heart Breakers

My girls are going back to the shelter in the morning. Oh crap, here come the tears already. And they really are heart breakers. Look at their little faces, so full of love and fun. They are going to make amazing pets for the right family.

And I am going to miss them like crazy.

This is a short post because it’s just too hard. But they needed someone to look after them and we stepped up to the plate. We’ve watched them grow from weak four week old babies into boisterous, strong, fun and beautiful nine week old puppies. They’ve spent more than half their lives with us. The transformation has been really amazing, these girls are such a joy to have around. Even if I’m the only one in the house who thinks so. Mia has been very stressed at having them here, so I hope she won’t gloat too much tomorrow.

These heart breakers will be available for adoption through the DSPCA, subject to a suitability assessment, home check and adoption fee.

Week 4: Actual Dogs

I’m pretty sure there is nobody out there waiting for my next blog post. But in case you were wondering why my weekly update on the foster puppies is late, I had a nasty bug. So, although the update is late, the photos were taken at the weekend, heading into Week 4. I’m feeling much better now thanks, but there were a few days there where I could hardly move from my bed.

The title of the post really says it all. My brother commented “They’re actual dogs now.” It’s the exact same phrase that had been going around my head. They’re 7 weeks old in these photos and all of a sudden they have developed personalities and are into everything. They’re not just pooing machines anymore. It has been an amazing transition, from baby puppy (sleep, eat, poo, maybe some play) to proper puppy running around the place, into everything. They recognise us now and recognise the sound of the food bowl, more importantly.

Katie  (above, the brown one) is the crazy one and will fling herself around the place without a care in the world. And she is so moany. They’re both very vocal, but if Katie is not happy about something she will let you know. She’s hilarious but totally nuts. Taylor (below, the white one) is much more laid back and calm. She’s still puppy crazy but is a bit more cautious. She loves to give kisses and loves to climb into your lap for a snooze. I can actually imagine her trying to climb into your lap as a full grown pit bull.

And they are growing so much. Every time I look at them they’re bigger. Taylor, the bigger of the two, isn’t much smaller than Mia now. The puppy barrier needs to be reinforced daily but is really helpful at keeping the carpet clean and keeping peace in the house.

They got their first vaccination this morning. And then we only have them for another week. I’m already dreading it. I wouldn’t say we have completely bonded; they are more interested in each other most of the time, they didn’t have personalities for most of the time they were with us, they’re kept in the kitchen even when we’re in other parts of the house, I always knew they’d be leaving so only gave them part of my heart. But that part of my heart is going to be devastated when they leave.

Week 3: Puppy Prison

I can’t get over how quickly these puppies are growing, every time I look at them I think they’ve gotten bigger. They’ve been here for two full weeks now, although it feels so much longer. In a good way. There is quite a lot of cleaning with two puppies and my husband in particular was getting fed up with constantly scrubbing the carpet.

6 week old pit bull puppies at puppy gateWe have a carpeted area in our kitchen, as well as tiles, which make keeping them off the carpet even more difficult. So on Friday morning I fashioned a very large puppy gate using kitchen chairs, trellis and boxes. We’ve had to reinforce it a few times and is a bit unsightly but it’s working a treat. They are kept on the very large tiled area, we can climb over it and Ollie and Mia can jump up onto the chair and down the other side.

6 week old pit bull puppiesLook at those faces. It’s hard to stay mad for long. We still bring their bed and water into the sitting room with us but only when supervised. And they get toilet breaks every time they wake up. Accidents on the tile are so much easier to clean up.

6 week old pit bull puppiesOllie and Mia still aren’t very bothered with them. I think they feel ganged up on with two of them. And the girls are inseparable. Katie and Taylor are really looking forward to seeing their namesake performing in the Olympics tomorrow too.

Mia Yorkshire Terrier Yorkie X ChihuahuaHere’s a picture of Mia, because she’s been feeling a bit left out and looks so great after her grooming.