A young couple was walking in Ballymacool Woods in Letterkenny when they came across a Jack Russell-cross puppy they described as “scared, cold and hungry”.
Sarah McMenamin and Daniel Gough already have a miniature Pomeranian-terrier cross at their Glencar home, but Sarah said they couldn’t leave the puppy there. They brought her home, fed her and tried to keep her warm.
After initially showing fear of humans, the puppy became “really appreciative, really happy to get a cuddle,” Sarah said.
Sarah is studying at Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Daniel is unemployed, so they had hoped to turn the pup over to Donegal Pet Rescue, but the pet rescue service already has a waiting list, so they took the puppy home with them again.
It has been a busy year for Donegal Pet Rescue, said Ryan McCauley, the group’s fostering coordinator for dogs.
“We have 10 foster homes across Donegal and once they’re full there’s nothing I can do until we rehome one,” he said. “Then I get to work away then and take more dogs.” The service now has 27 dogs in their care and a waiting list of 14 more.
“These are the numbers I see every month,” Ryan said. He said the increased numbers have been pretty steady for more than a year. People find they no longer have the money to care for a pet, or in other cases people are leaving the country to find work and must leave their dogs behind.
“Actually a lot of people are moving away for work,” Ryan said.
Donegal Pet Rescue also takes dogs from the pound to save them from being put to sleep.
The pet rescue service advertises all the dogs and cats they have on their web site, http://www.dpr.ie, and on their Facebook page. Anyone interested in adopting a particular dog, for example, can ring the phone number by the animal’s photo to make an appointment to meet the dog.
“If we’re happy the dog is happy with them, we go out and do a home visit to ensure it’s the right premises for that type of dog,” Ryan said. The cost of adoption is 50 euro for a puppy and 75 euro for an adult dog. The dog also comes with a voucher -- 30 euro for a male and 50 euro for a female -- to get the animal neutered or spayed, and the dog will be vaccinated and microchipped before it is rehomed.
“We don’t make any money off that,” Ryan said, adding that it is expensive to keep and care for all of the animals. “We have extraordinary bills at the end of every month,” he said.
The group runs on donations and there is also a Donegal Pet Rescue charity shop on Lower Main Street in Letterkenny.
For all the dogs that are surrendered to Donegal Pet Rescue, they have also rehomed a particularly large number this year -- 21 dogs were adopted in the last 30 days. “That was one of my busier months, to be honest with you,” Ryan said.
He said Donegal Pet Rescue has rehomed more than 350 dogs this year, working with other animal charities as well as providing dogs directly to individuals or families.
In comparison, last year the pet rescue rehomed about 140 dogs. But Ryan said more families seem to be looking for dogs this year instead of booking a holiday. “They’re doing a lot of family activities with their dogs, which I would recommend,” Ryan said. “It gets young people more animal-aware.”
“So we are rehoming dogs. At the same time, there is still an endless number of dogs coming in.”
Sarah and Dan said they could not afford to keep two dogs, and their own young dog was prone to infection, so they were concerned about bringing the puppy home with them. Still, they cared for the puppy for three days before learning that Donegal County Council dog pound, run in conjunction with the ISPCA, could also help to rehome a young pup with a sweet disposition.
“I was a bit disheartened that I had to take her to the pound,” Sarah said on Tuesday evening. “But when people see how little and how timid she is, she might stand a chance of getting a better home quicker.”
Sarah and Daniel returned to the Donegal Democrat offices yesterday afternoon with good news.
“She was rehomed this morning,” Sarah said. “I’m over the moon.”