“We are not a dumping ground”, says DSPCA

DSPCA mark fourth year of “Adopt Don’t Buy” campaign as appeal for abandoned animals intensifies

Feral cats in Dublin's inner city. Some have their ear clipped to show they have been neutered Photo- Dermot O'Shea

Feral cats in Dublin’s inner city. Some have their ear clipped to show they have been neutered
Photo- Dermot O’Shea

The DSPCA is not a dumping ground for unwanted animals. This is the message of manager Brian Gillen as the charity launched their “Adopt Don’t Buy” campaign for the fourth year running.

Speaking to The Liberty, Mr Gillen stresses the need for people – and families in particular – to carefully consider any decision to get a pet.

“Basically, if people are thinking of getting a pet for Christmas, don’t,” he stated.

He explained how advances in technology are creating an enviroment where the acquisition of an animal is a formality, with sites such as DoneDeal and offering opportunities to buy animals with the click of a mouse or on one’s phone.

“It’ll be the end of January before we start to see returns. People have to remember that we’re here to help sick and injured animals. We’re not a dumping ground for people who’ve tired of their pets,” he continues.

It’s mainly dogs that are the problem, according to Mr Gillen.

“It’s usually puppies given as gifts for Christmas that then grow up and are no longer manageable because they haven’t been trained properly,” he explains.

Figures released earlier this year by the Department of Environment for the Irish Pound showed that 2,896 abandoned dogs were put to sleep in 2014, averaging eight dogs a day.

Dublin City Centre, together with South Dublin recorded the joint lowest rate of termination in the Greater Dublin Area with 12% of all impounded dogs being destroyed, or 78 out of 649 dogs.

Mark Beazley, Executive Director at Dogs Trust shed further light on the figures upon their release.

“When a dog is picked up by a dog warden and enters the pound system as a stray, the pound has a legal obligation to keep the dog for five days in case the owner comes forward looking for their pet.”

Entrace to the DSPCA's shelter in Rathfarnham, Dublin (Photo- Dermot O'Shea)

Entrace to the DSPCA’s shelter in Rathfarnham, Dublin (Photo- Dermot O’Shea)

However, when a dog is handed over by its owner, the pound has no legal obligation to keep it for any length of time and the dog could be put to sleep the same day. The majority of these dogs are healthy animals surrendered by owners who cannot or, in some cases, will not care for their pet anymore.”

Back at the DSPCA, Mr Gillen explains that cats are more self-sufficient than their canine counterparts and thus pose less of a logistical problem for the charity. However large numbers of cats still find their way through the doors of the Rathfarnham-based shelter.

Genevieve Stafford runs the cat section of the campus and openly laments the lack of people willing to adopt a rescue cat.

“The older cats don’t go as quickly as the kittens,” she says. “A lot of the time, people will reserve a cat for adoption only to back out at the last moment,” explains Ms Stafford. And just like Mr Gillen, she has a message for any potential adopters.

“We’re not a shop, we’re a shelter,” she states. “All our cats are vaccinated, wormed, de-loused and ready for good homes,” she continues.

“Thankfully, there are some very cool people who will arrive in and specifically ask about the cats for whom we’re having difficulty finding a home,” she enthuses.

Dublin-based charity Cats Friends Rescue also help rehome abandoned cats. They operate a trap-neuter-return system in conjunction with a veterinary clinic in Inchicore, St Francis Dispensary, whereby stray cats can be caught and spayed before being released back into the wild. The spayed cats have the top of their left ear clipped to identify them as having already undergone the process.

According to the latest figures compiled by Feral Cats Ireland, there are currently close to 200,000 feral cats across the country, with a considerable proportion living in the Greater Dublin Area.


Mr Gillen, however, urged people not to feed feral cats as it only encourages more of them to congregate and subsequently breed.

First launched in 2012 by the then Dublin Lord Mayor, Naoise Ó Muirí, the DSPCA’s annual appeal offers people the chance to foster an animal for a ten-day period “to experience what it’s like to care for an animal”, says Mr Gillen. All food and veterinary requirements are covered by charitable donations.

For fostering enquiries, contact the DSPCA at or call 01 4994703.


By Dermot O’Shea

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