Animals and Environment

Helen Nolan, ISPCA, Longford

Helen one of the most regular volunteers here at the National Animal Centre having clocked up over 530 hours in 2 years. Working mainly in the Cattery, she helps our Animal Care Assistants with all the cleaning, feeding and general care of our feline charges. She is a fantastic worker and works hard every shift she is in. She is incredibly reliable and is always willing to help out no matter what the task. She is also incredibly diligent letting staff know if she sees any cat that may be under the weather or not eating.

Back in March of this year the centre (like a lot of the country) fell victim to the Big Freeze with the National Animal Centre falling under a thick blanket of snow. A message was sent out to all volunteers not to travel in as it was too dangerous given the weather conditions. This did not deter Helen in the slightest. Without any complaint or question she showed up for her regular shifts that week and as soon as the cats were all looked after she headed straight over to kennels to help get the dogs out for their walks. Even when the snow was falling thick and fast she stayed out until the end of her shifts those days walking dogs and helping whatever way she could.

Jane and Tamsyn Harris, ISPCA, Longford

Jane and Tamsyn are a mother and daughter who have been volunteering at the ISPCA for over a year. Between them they have logged almost 400 hours with the ISPCA to date. There is no job too mucky or too mundane for Jane. No matter what needs doing she gets stuck in from the moment she starts her shift. She has great interest in the area of animal behaviour as well as animal welfare and is always great with tips for how to handle dogs that may be very nervous or may have social issues.

Tamsyn works mainly in the cattery but also helps out walking the dogs too. She has a great way with the animals and is so gentle and calm, helping to bring out even the most nervous of animals out of themselves. Cattery can be hard work and the work is most definitely not the most glamorous at times but Tamsyn takes it all in her stride and is such a help to the Animal Care Assistants when she is in. Animal welfare is hugely important to Tamsyn and this is evident in her work. She takes great time with the animals ensuring that they each have all they need from food, water and cuddles. She knows all the dogs and cats in the centre by name and all their little quirks and likes and dislikes.

Through their volunteer work at the National Animal Centre they met, fell in love with and adopted Maple (8 years old) one of the beagles who was rescued from a research facility. Maple was very nervous, poorly socialised and just wasn’t sure of how to be a dog when she first arrived at the centre. However now she is a confident, bubbly and happy girl who even has her own Instagram page!

Maeve O’Donoghue, Mullingar Dog Shelter, Westmeath

Maeve volunteers in the local pound and runs a Facebook page (Mullingar Dog Shelter) to get the dogs reunited, rehomed and liaises with various rescues to get the dogs out of the pound if no home comes forward for them.

Maeve created the ‘Mullingar Dog Shelter’ Facebook page and she has volunteered in the pound since September 2011. She is also admin on the Lost and Found Pets Westmeath Facebook page which was recently set up to help reunited pets with their owners. By law dogs who are in the pound have only to be kept for a certain number of days (stray time) and then they can be rehomed or put to sleep. She works closely with the dog warden that runs the pound to prevent as many dogs as possible from being put to sleep either by reuniting them with owners or rehoming them. If neither of these are possible, Maeve has a network of connections to rescues and she does her utmost to get every dog out of the pound alive. She also arranges the transport for all the dogs going to rescue centers.

The pound opens to the public 3 mornings a week but Maeve visits nearly every day and takes photos of any dogs that are in the pound. She then posts the pictures to the Facebook page and gives details about where the dogs were found, if they were surrenders etc to aid people in finding their lost dogs or rehoming a stray that no one comes looking for which happens quite often. Maeve takes any seriously ill or injured dogs to her own vet and has them treated on her own account. The statistics show that number of dogs put to sleep in this dog pound have reduced quite a bit since Maeve began volunteering there.