Puppy love: Even with broken leg, animal foster mum goes out on limb
Everyone loves puppies, but it takes a special person to open their home to rear them from birth.
Not even a broken leg has stopped Bangor woman Debbie Mingout fostering seven pups and their mother.
"They were born here six weeks ago, it was scary but the mum did it all herself apart from one of them who got stuck, so we had to help it out," she said.
"After five we thought she was all done – then two hours later another two came out.
"The mum is a collie cross and the pups are a mix with a bit of Labrador in them – they are very cute."
Debbie started fostering three years ago when she noticed a poster in her local vets appealing for help from Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Co Down.
After a home check and look at her working hours, Debbie had her first litter of kittens to look after within days. She conceded it was hard work and that she can be called to get up in the middle of the night to care for them, as well as working part-time and looking after her three young sons, but she said it was just part of her routine now.
"Our house is ideal because I have three young kids and dogs and cats myself," she said.
"It's feeding them, cleaning them, looking after them, but it's also to socialise them so that they are adoptable.
"Some of the wee kittens are a bit feral, so if they are in a home environment and handled lots by my children, it means they become cute and fluffy kittens that everyone wants instead of hissy ones."
Debbie (38) cared for kittens in the past that had survived extreme cruelty.
"I have cared for one that had been in a plastic bag with three siblings in a river. The others didn't make it," she added.
"I had him from a few weeks old; that involved bottle feeding and getting up at night, a bit like with a child.
"It's quite hard work, but it's just something you fit around your routine."
Debbie broke her leg last week after tripping over one of the pups, but said it did not put her off and insisted on seeing it through.
"My friends think I am totally nuts," she said. "I think it's funny when people say it is an amazing thing to do, because it's just something I do. The kids love it. I think they prefer the puppies, you can engage a bit more with the puppies, they do what they are told, unlike kittens."