Pet shelters swamped with neglected animals
Hot on the heels of the season of goodwill comes the season of animal neglect as the pet rescue shelters fill up with unwanted Christmas presents.
Shelters across Northern Ireland have been inundated with animals which have been abandoned less than a month after Christmas.
The public has been horrified by stories such as that of the emaciated female Rottweiler pup who was handed into a Coleraine vet and had to be put to sleep after dropping to less than half of her normal body weight.
Meanwhile, staff at Mid-Ulster Rehoming Centre were shocked when they encountered Judy, an abandoned lhasa apso mix, which had been well fed but whose coat was in such poor condition that it had become completely matted and her electric collar had grown into her neck.
"We put her on a course of antibiotics and cleaned her wound and it healed within four days," Colleen Cunningham said.
There was a happy ending for another starved Rottweiler female which was brought in to the same shelter just before Christmas. She has found a new home with a man whose 15-year-old Rottweiler had just died of old age.
"He came in and fell in love with her, so she was rehomed yesterday," Colleen said.
Lynda Hill of Grove Hill animal shelter in Omagh said they have had a huge influx of dogs.
"I'm under a huge amount of pressure here at the moment with animals just about coming out of my ears," she said.
The shelter is organising a sponsored walk on February 4 to help pay a huge vets' bill incurred after it took in a springer spaniel whose owner had allowed it to suffer with an injured leg since November, as he was not prepared to pay for surgery.
Twenty-month-old Flash faces a long road to recovery after vets carried out cruciate repair surgery on his back left knee at a cost of over £3,000 and will have to go to a home where he can get the kind of gentle exercise that will allow him to recover properly. It comes after members of the public rallied to raise money to care for Sadie, another springer who was given another six months of life at the shelter after a cancer diagnosis.
"We are encouraging as many people with springer spaniels as possible to join us on the walk. This unexpected operation has left us feeling under such financial pressure that we now need all the help we can get to try to get at least some of the bill paid off," Lynda said.
The Rainbow Rehoming Centre in Londonderry has rescued seven pups in the past week alone. The USPCA said an alsatian was left dazed after it was dumped from a moving car on Wednesday.