Homes are now being sought for nine beagles and 15 cats available for adoption.
The ISPCA (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has completed a project to re-home 603 animals including 346 dogs, mostly beagles and 257 cats from a research facility in Co. Mayo which closed in 2016.
The ISPCA was first approached by Charles River Laboratories in August 2016 to discuss the possibility of rehoming as many of the animals as possible and following a series of meetings, agreement was reached on the most effective way of rehoming the animals. Authorisation also had to be sought from the Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) which oversees such facilities in Ireland.
Animal care staff were retained at the facility to enable the animals to be cared for in situ until they could be processed for release from the facility. All of the dogs and cats had to be neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and health checked by veterinary surgeons before they could be removed from the facility for re-homing. Many of the dogs also required to be socialised before being introduced to their new environment. This included training the dogs to walk on leash and introducing them to new and unfamiliar stimuli. A new outdoor exercise are was created and a mock-up of a domestic environment created complete with living room equipped with sofa, television so that the dogs would be able to adapt to their new homes in due course.
The ISPCA realised that it would be difficult to deal with such a large number of dogs and cats and called on Dogs Trust Ireland and Cats Protection for their assistance. The process began in December 2016 when a small number of animals (10 dogs and 12 cats) were removed initially on a trial basis and transported to the ISPCA’s National Animal Centre in Longford. As expected, the animals adapted to their new environment quickly and all were successfully re-homed.
It has taken over 12 months to remove all the dogs and cats from the facility. Small groups were removed on a monthly basis to enable the successful rehoming of the animals.
ISPCA Centre Manager, Eva Ellis said: “After the trial group of dogs and cats was removed from the facility, we began working closely with staff at the facility who were extremely co-operative and the challenge began to prepare the rest of the animals for release from February 2017. A natural home environment was created to include a television, sofa and washing machine to help prepare them for the outside world, which saved a lot of time and maximised our resources. An external compound was built to include different structures and toys were also provided. It was heart-warming to watch the animals witness sunshine, walk on the grass and to even see snow and rain for the first time. The animals settled in really well and we spent a considerable length of time socialising them and introducing them to other animals to prepare them for their new lives once they were ready to be rehomed."
Ms Ellis said: “The sheer volume of the animals removed naturally put a strain on our resources and it was challenging at times but also hugely rewarding. When we receive photos and the wonderful updates sent from the new pet owners, it is truly moving”.
The pilot was a first of its kind in Ireland and the ISPCA was pleased to have been given the opportunity to re-home these animals.
The ISPCA is still seeking homes for nine of these beagles and fifteen cats available for adoption and is appealing to anyone looking to get a new pet to always consider adopting from a rescue rather than buying one. For more information, please visit http://www.ispca.ie/rehoming/dogs_rehoming/, email [email protected] or call (043) 33 25035 (option 0).
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