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Spay your pets to avoid fall-out, warns Galway dog charity

The MADRA dogs’ charity has this week made a heartfelt plea to dog owners to spay their female pets after a ‘distressing surge’ over recent months in unwanted pregnancies.

They have issued a special appeal to farmers and caretakers of farm collies to have their female dogs spayed as the charity battles to cope with an increasing number of unwanted puppies being handed into them.

Director of Operations with MADRA, Dawn Divilly, told the Connacht Tribune that currently they are catering for 60 to 80 dogs at their kennels in Camus, Conamara, and in foster homes.

“This is a problem which is entirely preventable with just a little planning and care – we even have schemes in place where dogs can be spayed free of charge.

“This year, we are finding that our pounds are full of yearling collies, sheepdogs and farm dogs that have been surrendered or abandoned once it became obvious that these cute, fluffy puppies were not in fact the perfect family pet,” she said.

She added that it was becoming almost impossible to find homes – even in rural areas – for collies, while a rehoming option for these dogs in the UK was also drying up, due to the numbers involved.

“We implore you to reconsider your approach to your working dogs. We’ll go further and say that it is your duty to your livelihood, to your animals and to your wider community, to put in place very simple measures which can prevent this from happening,” said Ms Divilly.

The appeal from MADRA Galway coincided with World Spay Day on Tuesday last with the charity saying that it was an illusion to think there would be a happy ending for these unwanted puppies.

In an open letter released this week, MADRA said that they were appealing to the compassion and responsibility or farmers and all owners of farm collies and sheep dogs for their support on this issue.

“This is a huge issue that affects not only our small dog rescue service but the entire country. We are on our knees begging you to take positive action as we are stretched to breaking point.

“In our home county of Galway, over 44% of dogs entering the county pound in 2023 were collies and the majority of these were picked up straying in the region of agricultural lands or as a direct result of livestock worrying,” MADRA Galway state in their letter.

According to Ms Divilly, they had ‘heard all the excuses’ about unwanted pregnancies, stories which simply weren’t acceptable.

“MADRA and many other animal welfare organisations can subsidise (or cover) the cost of neutering female dogs through initiatives like Millie’s Fund, so we know this isn’t about the money.

“Only you can take action to improve the current situation. The farming community, your community, is at the heart of so many towns and villages throughout Ireland, and we desperately need your help,” said Ms Divilly.

The MADRA office can be contacted in Camus at 091-577813 or by email or

(Photo: Dawn Divilly, Director of Operations with MADRA Dog Rescue).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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