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Please paws for thought this Christmas


CRUEL REALITY This young lurcher was found tied to a gate in rural Roscommon last month, abandoned without water, food or shelter, trying as best she could to nurse six new-born puppies. (Picture courtesy of ISPCA.)

The Vet's View
Conal Finnerty

Last year, the ISPCA received 17,338 calls relating to suspected cases of animal cruelty, leading to 1,102 animals being rescued. A staggering 11,000 dogs were processed through our County Council dog-pound system in 2018. A disgraceful number, I’m sure you will agree.
These are very disturbing figures and do little to outline the actual neglect, cruelty and trauma that these poor animals, all of which have a nervous system and emotional intelligence, endure. The vast majority of this suffering results from poor human decisions.
If you or a family member are considering getting a pet for Christmas, please think very, very carefully about whether such a move is wise. If you do go ahead, please research which animal and breed best sits your family situation. Cute Labrador puppies of the Kleenex ad type don’t stay small forever. They need space and lots of time and attention as they mature into adulthood.
Christmas is a very exciting time of year for most, but it can also be a dangerous time for a new pet, with the availability of candles to knock over, electrical cables to chew through and boxes of Quality Street to scoff! (Chocolate is highly poisonous for dogs.) Perhaps postponing such a decision about a new pet until well into the new year may be wiser.
If you do make the big decision to get a new pet, please consider taking in a dog or cat that needs a new ‘forever home’ from one of the many animal charities rather than buying a ‘new’ puppy or kitten. And always ensure they get neutered or spayed to prevent any accidental litters of puppies or kittens in the future.

Alternative gifts
Another option to consider is the gift of a donation to an animal charity for the animal lover in your house. Donations are so badly needed, especially during the post-Christmas period, when there tends to be a surge in the numbers coming into the rescue centres. Did you know that 88 percent of the ISPCA’s funding comes from the generosity of the public – and they are still under severe financial pressure year on year.
The Donkey Sanctuary in Cork has Christmas cards available at this time of year. This is always a worthy charity, and one of the Finnerty family’s favourites. Maybe one of the best gifts you could give this year is to help fund the rehabilitation and rehoming of a neglected, traumatised animal. You might just be surprised at how making such a gesture can make you feel really satisfied and happy with yourself. Contributing to enhancing your own emotional well being.
The team here at Skeldale would like to wish all our clients a happy, healthy Christmas, and would like to remind you all that I am always contactable at the mobile phone number below over the Christmas holidays in case of emergencies.

> Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment. All readers’ questions about pet health are welcome. Please email your queries to Conal at