No two days are the same at the Galway Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA). From the start to the finish of any day, you just don’t know what will come through the door. Not the easiest place to work in, you learn early to condition yourself to what you will see and what will be said to you.
It is nothing new to arrive at the sanctuary gate and find a box there, or a dog tied to the gate or worse a dog running around, who has just been dropped off. We are a no kill sanctuary, so we are always full. At the moment, we have around 150 cats and kittens and around 80 dogs and puppies. With figures like that, we rely on our fosters to help when things get chronic, as they do.
We also have a list of people waiting for us to take their pet. They have to wait for space, as emergencies will always take preference. This is our 30th year in existence and it has to be the worst year. The level of animal cruelty has risen, as has the amount of unwanted animals. The apathy of people is just heart breaking.
It can be very difficult to keep your tongue in check with someone who pretends they found a stray dog when you know in your heart that the dog is theirs. It is also difficult to contain yourself when you see the look in the dog’s eyes when that person walks or drives away.
Equally upsetting is when you get a call about a puppy in a bog and you go out and find half a dozen puppies covered in fleas and mange, just disgarded like rubbish. Or when you find a greyhound totally emaciated within hours of death, or with a broken leg, discarded because it no longer can race and is no longer a money making machine.
While these cases are heartbreaking, the positive side is that you sometimes get to see them fight back and slowly get better. Down the road, you might see them go off to a new home where you know they will be cherished.
We are very lucky that we have groups like Erin Hounds, who help us find great homes for our Grays and Lurches and hopefully someday people’s attitude to these wonder dogs that make great pets will change in Ireland.
We deal with all animals and, again, we are lucky to have people on our books that will take and look after the likes of rabbits, hamsters, fish etc. We also have experienced people on hand who will help us with the unusual animals, for example snakes.
We are lucky to have community employment schemes in both Galway and Heath Lawn because without the schemes we could not keep going. We rely on volunteers to help as well in our shop, cattery, office and in our sanctuary in Galway. To volunteer with us is great. You learn so much about animal welfare. Some volunteers have even gone on to study veterinary nursing or have gone back to university to become vets. We cover Galway city, county and the Islands. We have to field inspectors who are very busy and constantly on the road.
It is expensive to keep the organization going, with expenses for any given month running to around €25,000. We try to help people with their pets. We have been running a TNR for feral cats and so far have neutered around 400 this year. We would love to do more but finances restrict us as other animals need our help
We would love for more people to help us but we know it’s hard, back breaking work and most people can’t bear to see animals that are ill or abused. But you can help in other ways like fundraising, helping in the shop or office or by supporting our shop.