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New scheme subsidises neutering of Achill sheepdogs


Anton McNulty

Achill sheepdog owners will soon be able to avail of a new scheme where they will be able to neuter and microchip their dogs at a subsidised price.
The sheepdog owners in the parish of Achill will be able to neuter and microchip their dogs and save up to 80 percent by signing up to the scheme, which is designed to benefit the sheepdog population of Achill.
The neutering of the dogs will be carried out by Achill native Mary Keane of West Vets, which are based in Westport and financed by Michael and Andrew Bradley, natives of Dooagh, Achill and the founders of renewable energy company, Solar 21.
Speaking to The Mayo News Mary Keane explained that sheepdogs are the most popular breed in Achill, but due to the lack of neutering there is often an over-population of unwanted dogs.
“The average Border Collie litter size is six puppies and often many of these do not reach their intended potential in that they do not make it to trialling, and this is where the issue arises with the resultant overpopulation of unwanted dogs.
“Sheepdogs such as Border Collies are highly intelligent animals but historically they were bred as working dogs and they were never really designed to be pets. They never lose that desire to work whether they have the ability or not and in many cases sheepdogs are rehomed but can end up worrying sheep near their new homes,” she said.
The cost of neutering a dog has traditionally been one of the main reasons dog owners have not had their dogs neutered, but Mary said that the new scheme will mean a dog can be neutered and microchipped for just €35.
“Owner pays €35 for a health check, neutering and microchipping and the rest of the usual fee is subsidised mainly by Solar 21 and ourselves at West Vets, who have reduced the overall fee as part of the scheme,” she said.
Solar 21 is a renewable energy development company with offices in Dublin, the UK and the Italy and Michael Bradley from Solar 21 said that they were delighted to be able to sponsor ‘this important initiative to care for dogs in the local area’.
“We’re delighted to be supporting the passionate work of Mary Keane who has been driving this important initiative,” he said.
The scheme is limited to people from the parish of Achill and to owners of Border Collie sheepdogs or sheepdog crosses. Initially it will apply to one dog per person, but this may change depending on demand and the subsidised service is only available at West Vets in Westport.
An information evening will take place in Gielty’s Clew Bay, Dooagh, Achill, on Wednesday, February 20, at 8pm, and Mary along with her colleagues from West Vets and will give a presentation on caring for your pet with a specific emphasis on care of the pregnant bitch.
Representatives from Solar 21 will be in attendance as well as the local dog warden Laura Mulligan who will deliver a presentation on responsible dog ownership on the night.  
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Achill so anyone wishing to avail of the scheme should attend on the night to express interest,” Mary concluded.