Shortly before Christmas, a wide-eyed dog stared out at me from my Facebook feed. The post that followed led me to contact the organisation D.A.W.G. D.A.W.G (Dog Action Welfare Group) is a saviour to homeless dogs from all walks of life.
De-stressing puppies rooms are not a secret at UCC. For the last event of this kind over four hundred students were interested in squeezing into the Students Union for a chance to get up close and personal with these cuties (thank you UCC Animal Welfare Society). Although this journalist was too busy with college to go to these events I possibly experience something better. I was lucky enough to hear about the care and kindness D.A.W.G provides to dogs in need from fosterer Katie.
Hopefully, this feature gives you a taste of what it is actually like in the world of heartache and happiness that D.A.W.G experiences on a daily basis. Every week five to six dogs are ‘surrendered’ to the care of D.A.W.G. when the lives of their humans move on to bigger and ‘better’ things. Common scenarios include a baby replacing a beloved dog or an owner having to give up caring for a dog in order to be cared for themselves. But what about a stereotypical abandonment? According to Katie, Christmas abandonments are more than a reality. They usually occur six months after a puppy is given as a present. By this time he gets nippy, less cute and bigger. Too big to fit into a suitcase when the time for holidays come about or be distracted by a ball. On the reverse side of this many teenage and older dogs are given up before Christmas to allow a puppy to take its place.
‘Alice is approx 12 weeks old and was found abandoned with her litter mate wandering the roads. Thanks to your support and veterinary treatment. She is bouncing back to full health and ready to start looking for her forever home. She is a very affectionate girl and will be small to medium in size. Alice isnt used to small children so children over 8 please. We are looking to home her with another dog for company.’
But are people only looking for puppies? Katie says no. More people are turning to D.A.W.G to adopt and foster due to over-breeding issues that have developed through demands for cuteness. Slowly but surely the stigma attached to homeless hounds are disappearing. The image of a skinny giant standing in a cage waiting to be picked is being replaced by a more complex and true one. As Katie says, every dog is different.
And the respect that D.A.W.G shows for the animals in its care is obvious. So erase the ideas of Hollywood. D.A.W.G uses a system to ensure the right animal is going to the right forever home. The system involves questionnaires, interviews and home check-ups and that is all before you can call a dog yours! Katie reported that nearly all the dogs will go to homes within a year. This is a success, in my opinion, that displays the example that D.A.W.G is setting for the dog owning community.
‘This gorgeous boy is approx 6 or 7 months old. He has a beautiful nature, typical of the deerhound, loves his exercise and loves his snoozes. He is an active boy who is good with other dogs. Yodo is more or less housetrained. Yodo would love a home with another dog to play with and a home where he won’t spend long hours alone. He is still growing and we imagine he will be a big boy. Whoever adopts this boy will never regret it. Children over 8 for Yodo.’
When I asked Katie what the common type of adopter was like, she surprised me by telling me that an adopter can be any type of person. The most important aspect taken into account for any adopter or any fosterer is experience. For example, Katie herself being an experienced fosterer with years of experience under her belt typically cares for dogs that have anxiety, are injured or have had an amputation.
‘Rico is 14 years age and sadly finds himself looking for a home. He is lively for his age and good with other dogs. Children over 10 for Rico.’
My final question is one I hope that all the students at UCC have on their minds… what can I do to help? Katie says in an ideal world all dogs would be in happy homes but there is always going to be rescue dogs. What D.A.W.G needs is fewer dogs and more donations. You could donate or even sponsor a dog for little as a euro a week. Half the price of a muffin in the student centre and less than a fine from the library. It’s simple, just pick up your phone right now and visit the D.A.W.G website. Donations and sponsorships can help the fosterers feed the dogs and pay for the €15,000 – €20,000 vet bills that D.A.W.G has to pay every month.
You, reader, have the power to make things better.