Thanks to the intervention of animal welfare groups in the county, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of dogs being put down at Ennis Dog Shelter.
Final Gael councillor Johnny Flynn posed some questions about the running of the shelter at the April meeting of Clare County Council. A response from Carmel Kirby, the director responsible for the facility, noted that just one animal has been euthanised to date this year.
This compares to 129 dogs killed in 2016 and 19 in 2017. In 2016 a total of 918 dogs passed through the shelter, 512 of these were rehomed or sent to a rescue centre. The following year there were 839 dogs, 607 were rehomed or sent to rescue.
Ms Kirby stated that Ennis Dog Shelter has been operated by Midland Animal Care Ltd. on behalf of Clare County Council since 2016.
Staff from the council’s environment section regularly visit the shelter and no animal welfare issues have been identified.
Ennis Dog Shelter has been located at the Gort Road Industrial Estate for over 30 years. During that time maintenance and improvement works have been carried out.
Ms Kirby stated that the existing building is considered adequate for the purpose for which it was developed.
According to Cllr Johnny Flynn, he is interested in animal welfare and particularly the operation of Ennis Dog Shelter. He recalled serious public concerns in 2014 about the method being used to put dogs to sleep at the centre.
Over the following years, he had been asked on a number of occasions to inquire about animal welfare issues. Subsequently, he met with council officials and visited the shelter where he found everything to be in order.
Since the operation of the shelter was contracted out by Clare County Council to a third party in 2016, Cllr Flynn said he decided to table some additional questions about the running of the facility.
According to the councillor, Midland Animal Care Ltd have a 2-year contract to manage the facility which is extended until the end of 2018.
Cllr Flynn has visited the centre twice and found it to be in good order. He said that his experience as a former engineer qualified him to inspect such buildings and what he saw there was “quite satisfactory”.
Commenting on the number of dogs being put to sleep there, Cllr Flynn said it’s extraordinary that, in a county like Clare, almost 1,000 stray or unwanted dogs are dealt with at the shelter each year.
He noted that there has been a dramatic improvement in the number of animals being euthanised and pointed out that this is down to the great work being carried out by voluntary groups interested in having the dogs rehomed.
To date this year, only one dog has been put to sleep. Cllr Flynn said he understands that this was quite a dangerous animal which had attacked an elderly man in North Clare.
According to the council’s senior engineer John Leahy, the contract for operating Ennis Dog Shelter will be tendered again at the end of this year.
At the appropriate time, the council says it will consider a suggestion made by Cllr Flynn to allow the running of a volunteer programme at the dog shelter.
Mr Leahy pointed out that if any person feels they have a serious animal welfare issue with regard to the running of the centre, this can be raised with the Gardaí or the Dept. of Agriculture which has a service level agreement with the ISPCA.
Representatives of these bodies can access the dog shelter unannounced to investigate a complaint or intervene where there has been an allegation of maltreatment.
In conclusion, Mr Leahy said the council will not tolerate any negative issues in relation to the running of Ennis Dog Shelter.