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Blue Cross mobile tends Liberties’ animals

The Irish Blue Cross animal charity provides mobile clinic facilities that go to ten locations throughout Dublin every week supplying low cost veterinary care to pet owners on low income, including areas in and around the Liberties such as Crumlin, Smithfield and Walkinstown.

The Liberty recently went out to one of the Blue Cross clinics to at their Walkinstown location to see what goes on.  Volunteer Aoife Plunkett, who has been helping out at the mobile clinics for the last ten months, arrives shortly after 6.30pm to get things started, taking the names and details of the owners who had been waiting with their pets since 6pm or earlier.  After giving a minimum donation of €15 for clinic services, the owners are then given a slip with their details and their pets’ details to hand to the veterinarian when they are seen to.

Veterinarian Fionnuala Rogers begins seeing clients just before 7pm and finishes at 8.10pm.  She is extremely fast and efficient when dealing with each animal, despite the fact that she is short-staffed for the evening, remaining kind and comforting to both the animals and their owners.  “I’m 12 years qualified, and I was in London for 11 of those years, so I only recently came to be involved with the Irish Blue Cross,” she says.  “They got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in helping out at their mobile clinics, and I was happy to do so.”

Throughout the evening, Rogers treats and examines 31 animals, including making some referrals back to the Irish Blue Cross small-animal clinic in Inchicore.  Her patients consist mainly of dogs and a few cats, and she works with the help of volunteer Kevin Owens, who has been with the charity for the past ten years.  Owens was also the clinic driver for the evening but gave a hand with bringing the animals into the clinic from the waiting area and assisting Rogers during examinations and treatments.

Treatments generally include vaccinations or worming as there are limited services available within the mobile clinics, but that in no way diminshes the quality of service the clinics provide and the friendly and comforting atmosphere created, not only by the vet, but also by the clinic assistants and volunteers.

“We treat, vaccinate and promote responsible pet ownership at our mobile clinics,” says Irish Blue Cross manager Christina Connelly.  “Our teams of vets and their assistants carry out this work…without them it would be impossible to offer such a reliable and popular service. Pet owners rely on this valuable charity support and beyond that we also provide a referral scheme for mobile clinic users so that pets requiring surgery will be assisted at our own newly opened small-animal clinic in Inchicore or at a referral veterinary practice.  Procedures such as microchipping, X-rays and blood tests are carried out at the Inchicore fixed clinic as well as urgent surgeries and neutering.”

When asked exactly who can use their mobile clinic services, Christina explains that they are there for any pet owner who is genuinely needy.  “We are there for the animals first and foremost, and if someone finds it necessary financially to come to us for assistance then we are happy to help them,” she says.

“We explain that if the service is used correctly, it will reach all those deserving assistance.  People respect the fact that the charity does not have unlimited funds and that our charity status means that we must work within charity guidelines.  Those who need it most receive the Irish Blue Cross assistance and not pet owners who can afford to make that trip to a local private veterinary practice.  At the moment, the mobile clinics are saturated and our current volunteer force – drivers and veterinary assistants alike – are giving maximum hours.  Everyone gives so generously of their time.  It really is a great service, and we get lots of positive feedback.  The service reflects the charity’s good approach towards animal welfare and reflects the involvement of really focused welfare-minded people from a volunteering, administration and fundraising perspective right through to trustee level.”

The Blue Cross mobile clinics go to Crumlin on Tuesday nights, Smithfield on Wednesday nights and Walkinstown on Thursday nights as well as many other clinic locations throughout Dublin Monday to Friday, all between 7-8pm.  For a full list of clinics and locations visit www.bluecross.ie/areas.html or contact the Irish Blue Cross at 416 3030 for more information on any of their services.

The main services the Irish Blue Cross provides include:

  • Basic vaccinations/treatments and worming of animals at their mobile clinics
  • Suitable prescriptions
  • Pet care advice
  • Surgeries/neutering at their small animal clinic in Inchicore
  • Microchipping at their small animal clinic in Inchicore
  • Outward referral of cases they cannot take on themselves
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