THE OWNER of a dog sanctuary that took in over 400 dogs last year fears she might be forced to close over the coming months because of crippling veterinary bills and a dramatic fall off in donations.
PAWS, which is located on the Callan to Mullinahone road relies completely on the generosity of donations to cover it’s running costs. In recent months there has been over a 100% increase in dogs being abandoned by their owners and also a stark drop in donations. At the end of June the centre owed €9127.23 in veterinary costs and had €451.71 in it’s bank account.
“It is heartbreaking but I am seriously thinking of closing. PAWS is desperately needed. Since we have opened the dog destruction rate has fallen significantly in Kilkenny as the dogs are coming to us instead. In recent times the intake of dogs has increased hugely but as things stand I feel I have no choice but to close. I have put 15 years of my life into this and it would be devastating but I can’t lose my home or risk my health. PAWS is not a limited company and at the end of the day I am personally responsible for paying the bills and wages. I really don’t know which want it will go in the next six months but if things stay the same we will have to close. You can’t go on forever when there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” said Gina Hetherington who founded the sanctuary.
“Last year we took in over 450 dogs. If they didn’t come to us the vast majority of them would have been destroyed. We have a no kill policy and we take in every dog and only put them to sleep if an extreme medical condition leaves us with no other option,” she said.
“The situation is getting worse all the time. We are getting in more and more dogs. People who are emigrating and leaving seem to forget that they are a dog owner until the last minute and the number of dogs being abandoned has doubled in the past two to three years.
“In the first six months of this year we took in 181 dogs and 11 were rehomed in Ireland. Some of our dogs have medical needs and people don’t want to take them because of the cost involved and the same applies to large dogs. If we were not here these dogs would almost certainly be destroyed. The rest of them go eventually to the Blue Cross, an animal welfare charity in the UK and most of the greyhounds and lurches go to homes in the Czech Republic and Sweden. Irish people wont adopt greyhounds and we have only rehomed three in the past 15 years.” added Gina.
PAWS employs one full time member of staff and three part time staff. “We are always looking for volunteers and especially welcome people who would like to walk dogs during the week. I am appealing to people to give what they can so we can keep the sanctuary open,” she added.
Bank account details are Allied Irish Bank Naas, sort code 93 32 36, account number 07680026. For more information on PAWS see www.paws.ie