Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Dog charity struggling to cope with unwanted pets

Her big, sad eyes sum up the plight of dozens of dogs abandoned over Christmas.

Daisy looks just like Beethoven, the lovable St Bernard dog that starred in the 1990s hit comedy.

But it’s no laughing matter at the Rainbow Rehoming Centre, the animal refuge charity in Eglinton, Co Londonderry, where Daisy now lives and where staff say they are struggling to deal with an overwhelming number of stray and unwanted dogs.

Daisy is just five years old but was sent to the pound as an |unwanted pet.

Staff describe her as “a beautiful big lady with a very easygoing nature”, but she is understandably confused and unhappy in the centre. Like all the dogs there, she is just looking for a home and someone to love her.

Founder Helen Davies said: “Daisy walks very well on a lead and seems to be good with other dogs. She loves to cuddle up beside you in her bed. She would make a wonderful pet.”

Ms Davies said she is deeply concerned for Daisy and the plight of many of the dogs as the refuge centre is now full to capacity.

She claimed some people are blatantly pretending their own dog is a stray they have found and some pet owners are even ditching older dogs in favour of new pups bought for Christmas.

“In the 14 years we are running I have never seen it this bad,” she said. “We are turning four or five dogs away every day. We are full; the pound is full too.

“Most of these dogs are pedigree dogs. It is absolutely shameful — the poor wee dogs are stressed but we just have no more room.”

It’s a situation thought to be replicated right across Northern Ireland.

Ms Davies said staff were also called out on four separate occasions to deal with neglect cases in the Derry area on Wednesday alone.

These included dogs chained up, locked in kennels or living in their own filth.

She spoke to the Belfast Telegraph as new figures released at Derry City Council’s environmental services committee this week showed there were 61 complaints in the city about stray dogs last November.

In the same month, a total of 26 dogs were destroyed, 47 stray and unwanted dogs impounded and 24 fixed penalty notices were |issued to dog owners.

Only five dogs from the local dog pound at Pennyburn were sold or rehomed, while 16 were |reclaimed.

Despite a massive campaign of neutering undertaken in conjunction with the Dogs Trust in the north west over recent years, and dogs being shipped to new owners in England, Ms Davies said the problem showed no sign of abating.

“It is disgraceful,” she said. “There are people breeding |dogs in their backyards in high concentration.

“The puppy farms are the |problem. It is a crying shame that there are so many irresponsible people out there.”

In a plea to potential pet owners across Northern Ireland, Ms Davies said: “I would urge anyone considering getting a dog not to pay hundreds of pounds for sick animals from a puppy farm.

“The pound has plenty of grand wee dogs.”

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