SEVERAL dogs had to be rescued from a home in Ballylinan last week, after the ISPCA discovered that over 20 animals were being kept in cramped cages and tiny carriers in what is suspected to be a case of dog hoarding.
ISPCA chief inspector Conor Dowling along with Laois County Council dog warden, Tristan Blundell found that the dogs were being housed in completely unsuitable living conditions at the home of an elderly lady in a rural area of the county.
Various breeds were living among their own waste in squalid cages, while others appeared to have spent the vast majority of their lives barely able to move having been squeezed into small transport containers.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Mr Dowling said that most of the animals were in good physical condition and had obviously been fed, but there were health and safety issues concerning the “deplorable” living conditions. Some of the animals were found to have parasites in their ears, while many had overgrown nails which indicated that they had not received proper exercise.
“These dogs had been accumulated over a period of time and it was clear from the presence of young animals that the numbers were continuing to rise,” Mr Dowling explained.
Mr Dowling described the incident as a clear case of “animal hoarding”, a complex and intricate public health and community issue whereby a person accumulates more animals than they can properly care for. Mr Dowling said that, in his experience, more women than men tend to hoard animals, with nurses and teachers the most common profession of hoarders.
“There’s something missing, an emotional void to fill,” he said.
He likened it to a person hoarding books or collectables, a compulsion whereby the person feels they never have enough. Often, the hoarder will fail to recognise the problems their behaviour presents to animal welfare and they may be reluctant to give the animals away.
“People will have names for the dogs and there’s a story with each one. They always give some reason not to take the dogs away. But deep down they know there’s a problem,” said the inspector.
Mr Dowling said that it’s likely the animals were kept in the woman’s house at one point, but as the numbers grew she took to keeping them in the cages. The woman “co-operated reluctantly” with the ISPCA and there are now only around six dogs left at her property, with the majority of the dogs surrendered to care. Mr Dowling said that given the age and co-operation of the woman no prosecution will be made, with further visits planned in the coming weeks to ensure the welfare of the remaining dogs is maintained at an acceptable level.
“Hopefully, with a smaller number of dogs we won’t see a repeat of this situation,” he said. “It was caused by sheer numbers and a lack of accommodation.”
All of the dogs that were removed are now at the ISPCA National Animal Centre and will be available for rehoming after finishing their isolation period.