Since the years of the recession, abandoned pets- particularly dogs- have been the norm. In the heart of Galway City, there exists a sanctuary of help for these less fortunate animals. Here, people from a wide range of backgrounds; mechanics, students, factory workers and many more – 35 in total- volunteer their time to a cause; the Galway SPCA.
The GSPCA is composed of both the Kilimor sanctuary and the city cattery. Between these and the homes of so many dedicated foster families, there are currently 83 animals under the care of the GSPCA. Although they do receive a grant from the department of agriculture, the majority of the GSPCA’s funds are received from donations and fund-raising events, run by the organisation itself. Volunteers are also hugely important.
Questions are always raised about animals being re-homed around the festive season- is this dog for life or just for Christmas? Although the sanctuary do re-home during the Christmas period, they do not re-home animals as Christmas gifts. As with any other time of the year a home check is carried out; the needs of the animal always remains paramount, and unsuitable carers are turned away. There are many things to take into consideration when fostering out an animal at Christmas; it is high pressure time in the home with so much activity, extra visitors and loud, excited children.
People should always carefully consider all consequences before taking on a new responsibility.
“There are a few factors you should consider. Are you prepared to make a minimum ten year commitment?” says volunteer Anita. “If you decide to get a dog they will need daily walks and ideally a secure garden for them to run around in. If you are living in a rented property you should also check with your landlord first to make sure they will allow pets.”
More often than not, the numbers of abandoned animals increases in the run up to the festive season, making even more work for the already busy volunteers.
It’s not all bad however- around the festive season, people can be more generous with their time, and visitors numbers increase. They also see an increase in people donating toys and treats as Christmas gifts for the animals.
“We are truly blessed with our volunteers,” Anita says. ‘We would be lost without them.”
So if you find yourself in Galway with a few spare hours on your hands- you know where you’re needed!