By Alan Finn
Rescue Dogs Sligo, the only service of it’s kind in the county, announced its closure last weekend.
The decision was confirmed on their Facebook page by founder Dorothy Kilgallen following a number of issues including a lack of support and continuous online abuse.
Speaking to the Sligo Weekender, Dorothy said she brought the curtain down on her voluntary gig with a heavy heart as they continued to be inundated with messages from people trying to get rid of their dogs.
“It is all people who are fed up with their dogs and don’t want to invest any more time in them. Since last November it has been horrendous and a lot of older dogs have been abandoned in frightening condition.”
The alarming number of abandoned and unwanted dogs has taken it’s toll on the few foster homes working alongside Dorothy, who recently had no choice but to take in a Collie after receiving little interest in looking after it.
“If people are not willing to foster then we have nowhere to go with the next dog. We brought in a very traumatised collie just two weeks ago and there was nobody to take him, he’s at my house now and that is where he will be. I had one offer to take the dog for a week but unfortunately that is no good to us.”
Dorothy said there is a greater onus on the public to take action in support of abused and abandoned dogs in Sligo, and that hitting the like button on their Facebook posts simply isn’t enough.
“If you go on our page there is over 9,600 people who have liked it but if you go looking for help, no one is offering. Everyone is great at putting up pink love hearts, they are a brigade, but when push comes to shove you are in a corner on your own.
“I know so many people are telling me to get over the abuse and think of the stray dogs,” she continued.
“That is emotional black mail. You look at the comments on that post and there is no one offering any valuable help. We spent the last number of years begging and pleading, we had pieces in the Sligo Weekender and other media and we got little or nothing, but then when we close there is this outpouring of shock and really it is too late, someone else has to step up now.”
In response to the online abuse which Rescue Dogs Sligo received, Dorothy pointed out that there was a common misconception that this was her full-time job, when in reality she was volunteering out of a love for canines.
“We get told that this is your job and when you aren’t doing it properly your attitude stinks and customer service leaves a lot to be desired, but we never got paid for this and whether or not you are being paid, you should not be subjected to that kind of vulgarity. This isn’t my job, this is entirely voluntary, I have a day job, I have a family, I have my own dogs.”
For Dorothy, her decade or so of noble service has soured her view of the general feeling towards dogs in Ireland.
Having seen copious cases of discarded ‘Christmas puppies’, horrific cruelty and aforementioned abuse from the public, she now considers the idea that we are a ‘nation of dog lovers’ to be little more than a myth.
“Most people you feel would be grateful if you found their dog, brought it into a safe place until it can be returned, you don’t want to be lauded with praise, just a simple thank you for keeping our dog save, but I am afraid the situation went the complete opposite way and I am not here to take that and I won’t be any more.”
Rescue Dogs Sligo still have two animals in their care.
They are currently seeking new homes for a Springer Spaniel and a Collie pup, but the will not be taking in any more. If you want to help with either, visit their Facebook page, Rescue Dogs Sligo.