“A DOG is not a toy, it’s part of your family,” the AGM of Offaly Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) was told last Sunday in Hugh Lynch’s, Tullamore.
Deirdre Pender, Dog Manager, made the comment after saying that the society had obtained homes for 101 dogs in the past year, and reunited eight with their owners. It was ‘heartbreaking’ to have to go to the dog shelter and select which dogs could be homed.
She also spoke of how sick and injured dogs were given homes. She expressed concern at the number of people who ‘surrendered’ their dogs, adding, “People need to think before they get a dog.”
Ms Pender stressed the importance of getting dogs neutered, saying this would reduce the current total of 16-17,000 dogs put down in Ireland annually.
She illustrated her talk with slides of two dogs which had been given good homes, and one of the dogs, adopted by a local family, was brought along to the meeting.
Colette Coates said that there had only been room for 16 dogs in the shelter, but following efforts by Ciaran O’Sullivan, County Veterinary Officer, the County Council had provided funds and work had started on provision of another 16 kennels.
The work started three weeks ago and it was hoped it would be completed by June or July.
Shirley Mahon said that over 1,500 cats or kitten had been spayed or neutered by the society in the past three years, and she described the work of getting foster homes for cats.
Turning to wildlife, she said that animals they had dealt with included a buzzard, an otter, a fox (the latter, incredibly, was found in a post office), numerous hedgehogs and two badger cubs.
The latter were found in Charleville estate and with loving care were nursed until sent to a centre in Northern Ireland. It is planned that they will be returned to the wild when seven months old.
The meeting also heard that a ferret had been found, in a very unhealthy condition, in the Arden View area of Tullamore. It was also nursed back to health very quickly and is now in a wildlife sanctuary in Limerick. The meeting also heard that a swan and a bat had been cared for.
Chairperson Dorothy Oakley referred to the widespread problem of feral cats, which were disease-ridden and inbred. If caught, there was no alternative but to have them put down.
Office manager Margo Mills reported on phone calls from members of the public reporting the presence of such cats on their property, and cautioned that if they have been on the property for a certain period, they become the householders’ property.
Treasurer Colette Coates noted that during the year €31,793 had been spent on Veterinary bills. She commented also on the fact that none of their members claimed expenses incurred in the course of their voluntary work for the Society. Income, totalling €50,848, had fallen just €347 behind expenditure of €51,195.
Most of the Society’s fund-raising activities were centred around World Animal Week. The Treasurer extended the warmest of thanks to Audrey Bracken, of Barna View Kennels, Clara who had organised a Music Night in Baggot’s in Clara which had raised over €2,000 for the OSPCA and to the Rahugh Drama Group, per Lorraine Slevin, who had donated €1,000 from proceeds of a highly successful production. There were greatly appreciated contributions also from people who had run the Mini-Marathon, from Mars Ireland and Master Foods, who had made a substantial donation of cat and dog food, and from well-wishers who simply called to the Society’s office and handed in donations. In concluding, Ms Coates said they were always on the look-out for new ways of raising funds – and responses from the audience later in the meeting indicated that supporters of the OSPCA already had ideas along these lines.
Still on the subject of fund-raising, a member of the Board, Jass Mollen, appealed to the general public for support of a stand which she organises at the Simon Market in Tullamore in aid of the OSPCA. Contributions of suitable articles for sale could be left in at the office in Market Place.
Mrs Coates also described her work in giving talks in schools, saying she visits a school or two each week to talk on animal welfare.
PRO Geoff Oakley thanked the local papers for publicity.
The meeting agreed that Devery Farrelly and Co. should be the new auditors and it was stated that this would save €1,000 per annum, the cost of neutering ten dogs.
The meeting was informed that two members of the outgoing Board Mary Dunne, Membership Secretary, and Donna Mills, had resigned during the year and both were warmly thanked for their contributions.
Caroline Mealy and Ross Hathaway, who had been co-opted to fill the vacancies, were formally elected to the new Board, on which they will serve with nine members of the outgoing Board who were unanimously re-elected, namely, Colette Coates, Breda Kelly, Shirley Mahon, Jass Mollen, Ciaran O’Sullivan, Dorothy Oakley, Geoff Oakley, Deirdre Pender and Audrey Quinn.
A member of the audience expressed concern that baby swans were being taken from nests as pets. He spoke of a case where this happened at Lough Boora, and said that the baby swan in question died a day later.
The meeting was told that this was totally illegal, as licences are required to keep wildlife as pets.