The Dog’s Trust

Coco the education dog at the Dogs Trust

“We couldn’t sleep last night,” says Ciara O’ Gorman, 11, from Dunboyne. “We were so excited about getting our new dog Edward. He’s named after John and Edward!” As her 6 year old brother bounces up and down beside her, her statement is confirmed.

As Ciara and Jack wait for their new dog to come through the doors at Dog’s Trust in Finglas, the excitement in the air is palpable. They cannot wait to get their paws on their new pooch.  

But this family aren’t here to get a brand new puppy. In fact Edward, Ciara and Jack’s new dog is a little older. He came to Dogs Trust as a pair (with John!) from the ISPCA in Longford who no longer had room for them.

“We were waiting until the children we responsible enough to help care for a dog,” says their mother Valerie loud enough so her children can hear. “We thought Dogs Trust would be a nice idea as these dogs need rehoming,” she says.

But the O’ Gorman’s are not alone. They are just one of the sixteen families waiting today in the big conference room to collect their new bundle of fur. Having gone through the adoption process they are now waiting in anticipation for their dog to appear through the door with a Dogs Trust worker.

There is a scuffle as the first dog comes in. New owners go over to greet their excited new dog. 

Kathrina Bentley, Marketing Manager for this branch of Dogs Trust, confides that two particular dogs leaving today will be greatly missed.

“Mable and Sherlock came here when we opened in November” she says. “They have been here the longest and they are old dogs at 9 and 11 – their nicknames are granny and granddad or Jack and Vera! They came here individually but they fell in love and now we can’t separate them!” They are being rehomed together with Irish author and screenwriter Derek Landy who is standing nearby. “I thought it would be nice to give two old dogs a new home,” says Derek. “I am at home a lot because of my writing and I have a house just outside Dublin which means they would have plenty of space. I just thought, no one really wants old dogs, so maybe I could give them a good last couple of years!”

As everyone there agrees, no one likes to see an animal abandoned, especially in the cold weather. But in Ireland the reality is a stark one – with 10,500 dogs last year being destroyed in Ireland alone. This compares to Scotland, with the same population as Ireland, who have figures of 400 dogs in the same time frame.

That’s why when Dogs Trust in Finglas opened early last November it was a welcome relief for a country overrun with abandoned animals.

An example of this is Juliet, a Labrador cross. When she arrives into the room to meet her new owner her eyes are wide and she is shaking like a leaf. She is a little unsure of people as she was dumped outside their Rehoming Centre on a wintery night in the lashing rain. A neighbour found her shivering inside a box along with Romeo, a Springer Spaniel puppy – they both had a skin condition, but both have now been rehomed.

And in the past three months Dogs Trust have also managed to rehome some 200 healthy dogs that otherwise would have been put down. Dogs Trust do not destroy dogs, instead 75% of their animals are saved from dog pounds around the country – most on their last day before the animal would have been put to sleep.

With 35 staff, four blocks and 130 dogs it is a busy place. The dog’s area is like a five star hotel for pooches rather then cold, sad cages. With underfloor heating, glass fronts to their pen, sound proofing and regular walks – the dogs are less stressed and more inclined to recover from their abandonment.

But Dogs Trust, like any charity, needs money. “We don’t receive any government funding and we need about 1 million for running costs each year,” says Kathrina. “Another million goes on neutering. As well as that our dogs are microchipped, cleaned up and have all their vaccinations here. When we rehome dogs we give their owners 6 months free pet insurance and we pay for any operations the older dogs may need after they are rehomed such as hip operations.”

But she adds: “We remind people taking dogs on to remember that food, veterinary bills and pet insurance can be expensive.”

And the rehoming is not all they do. As part of Dogs Trust, Education Officer Jillian and her dog Coco also visit schools around Ireland teaching 5 to 12 year olds about being responsible dog owners – including how all dogs need to be walked daily and be part of the family at home. They have reached 40,000 children so far and have big plans to reach more this year.

I see Ciara and Jack running around the room with Edward on his new Dogs Trust lead. They look delighted with themselves. I ask them whether they are going to keep his name as Edward. “No I think we will call him Sam,” says Ciara looking at him curiously. They leave and the room is empty like the remnants of a party. “Twice a week we have this, there’s the big build up and then they’re gone,” says Kathrina. “But then they are immediately replaced. It helps when I remember that for every dog we rehome there is space for one more.”