Belfast Telegraph

Meet the abandoned pets in Northern Ireland animal shelters who need a home

By Allan Preston

Animal shelters across Northern Ireland were "full to the rafters" over Christmas week, with multiple litters of abandoned puppies and older dogs now starting the new year with no homes.

In just eight days the Almost Home Animal Sanctuary in Moira took in 43 dogs, three cats, two rabbits and even a turkey - named Mistletoe.

The new arrivals included two separate litters of puppies found abandoned before Christmas.

"I would say their owners couldn't sell them in time for the Christmas market and just couldn't be bothered having them," said sanctuary trustee Karen Matthews.

At the opposite end of the canine age spectrum was 14-year-old Collie-terrier cross Lucy, a stray from the pound.

She's now due to spend her remaining days in a dog retirement home, Heather House, along with 14 other 'oldies'.

"They have a big log cabin with a TV and a sofa, the doors are open to a patio all day and they get tea and toast," said Karen.

"It really is like a residential home as they have their own medicine boxes and staff dedicated to only them, but it's lovely for dogs that have been abandoned for whatever reason."

In the last two days, five dogs have been left in as well as a cat yesterday morning.

"Two of the dogs were private surrenders. Sometimes there are genuine reasons a family will need to rehome," said Karen.

"Another is a lurcher but we don't know his name - he's a hunting dog with scars all over his face and not in the best condition," she said.

"He's not microchipped but let's just say we're not going to look too hard for his owners."

The Dog's Trust in Ballymena is currently caring for six litters of puppies with at least six older dogs left in over Christmas.

Sisters Keeva and Sorcha are nine-month-old Jack Russell crossbreeds that were found dumped in a garden.

"The man who found them looked after them for a couple of months while we were able to get space for them," a spokeswoman said. "They do need a bit of training but they are friendly wee things."

Three-year-old labrador Jess was left in days before Christmas when her previous owner could no longer care for her.

"She's lovely and very friendly with people," the spokeswoman said.

Jay, a seven-year-old cross, was left in when his previous owner couldn't find a dog-friendly landlord.

"Jay looks older than he really is but he's actually very fit for seven and is very friendly and curious," she said.

Bridie, a one-year-old stray collie cross taken in over Christmas, is another pup longing to find a home in 2018.

In the Assisi Animal sanctuary in Newtownards, many dogs were fostered by families for Christmas week, with some choosing to keep them.

"It never stops for us," said operations manager Alison Kamble.

"We're full to the rafters and we got a new intake from the pound this morning.

"There's been a few home surrenders as well."

In contrast, David Wilson from the USPCA reported a relatively quiet Christmas week.

"It usually gets tougher for us in about six weeks when the kids are back at school and parents return to work," he said.

"They'll come home and the kitchen mat has been eaten or granny tripped over the dog.

"So along with an inevitable surge in sick puppies, we are unfortunately expecting more to be dumped in the new year."

Belfast Telegraph

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