By Kim O'Leary
An inspirational animals’ rights campaigner from Co. Kildare and one of the founders of PAWS Animal Rescue, the late Deirdre Hetherington, was laid to rest earlier this week following a life-time of looking after animals.
Deirdre Hetherington, late of Sallins Lodge, Sallins, Kildare, passed away peacefully on Sunday 13 May in the wonderful care of the staff of St. Vincent's Hospital, Athy. Beloved wife of Seamus, mother of Shay, Barry, Gina and Damien, deeply regretted by her sister Dolores, brother Hugh, daughters-in-law Mary, Geraldine and Faye, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her funeral mass took place on Tuesday morning in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Guardian Angels, Sallins, with a cremation having also taken place at Newlands Cross Crematorium.
Speaking to KildareNow, Deirdre's daughter Gina said that the family were "delighted with the good turn out" at Deirdre's funeral mass and that they even received a police escort to the Crematorium.
Deirdre and her daughter Gina set up PAWS Animal Rescue in Sallins Co Kildare in February 1997, and the original concept was to rehome unwanted pets from their current homes and take in dogs from Kildare Dog pound to save them from destruction.
At the time, there were 35,000 dogs being killed in Irish Dog Pounds every year, with Kildare being among the top ten and they felt this was no longer acceptable. Soon, word about PAWS spread via the media and Gina's weekly appearances on TV3 and they were assisting animals from the 26 counties and beyond.
By 2000, PAWS was taking every dog available from South Dublin Dog Pound in Saggart and Greyhounds from Ashton Pound in North Dublin.
However, they realised that they needed more space to house the animals in their care but they were refused planning permission from Kildare County Council and so they relocated to Mullinahone in Co Tipperary, where they successfully saved and rehomed thousands of dogs with particular success in looking after greyhounds.
PAWS is dependent on funding from donations, flag days, fundraisers, and it continues to work to help vulnerable animals with mother-daughter duo Deirdre and Gina highly respected by the local community in both Sallins and Mullinahone. "We still take in dogs from Co Kildare, at the moment we have 120-125 dogs. My mother adored greyhounds as well so we always have a lot of them," explained Gina.
At the weekend, following Deirdre’s passing, her daughter Gina penned a heart-breaking and poignant tribute to her beloved mother Deirdre which she has shared with KildareNow.
“The world lost one of the most amazing human beings ever created. The world and more importantly, the world of Animal Welfare in Ireland has lost a founding Mother. Yes, she drove us crazy sometimes with ‘tough love,’ but dare anyone hurt her cubs and the full weight of her strength came to the surface. Tough, tender, strong, infuriating, beautiful, generous to the extreme and an amazing, crazy mother whose late brother called her ‘The Templeogue Terror’,” writes Gina Hetherington.
“She worked hard all her life. But dogs were her passion and in her 64th year, 11 years after battling and beating breast cancer, she founded PAWS Animal Rescue. She begged, borrowed and lobbied to get what was needed to save the dogs, especially her beloved greyhounds. Politicians, Bank Managers, IGB, County Councils and others could never say, no, to this formidable lady. But, she taught me to be strong, stubborn and driven. I am very, very proud to say that Deirdre Hetherington was my mother. She will be greatly missed by those whose lives she touched.”
For more information on PAWS Animal Rescue, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary visit www.paws.ie
All of the staff at KildareNow would like to express their condolences to the Hetherington family at this difficult time.
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