Save a stray for Christmas: Royston sanctuary calls for dog foster carers

Tracey Richards, Gillian Knight and Karen Barry of the Heathlands Animal Sanctuary.

Tracey Richards, Gillian Knight and Karen Barry of the Heathlands Animal Sanctuary. - Credit: Archant

A dog’s not just for Christmas – but will strays in the pound even see Yuletide? Over-population of stray dogs in Ireland has led to many being put down, and rescuers are attempting to find them new homes in Britain.

Overbreeding of dogs is rife in Ireland due to lack of neutering. The republic has the most strays per capita of any European country, and most of the dogs at Heathlands Animal Sanctuary in Royston come from the Emerald Isle.

“Most of the Irish dogs that find themselves in the pound are just lovely, well-balanced dogs with no issues,” said sanctuary trustee Karen Barry.

“Many are pure breed dogs. They are just victims of a very irresponsible owner.”

When the sanctuary started working with Irish strays in 2007 some pounds were putting down up to 95 per cent of the stray and surrender dogs they received.

Nearly all pounds now try to maximise the number of dogs who can have a second chance, but there were still more than 5,000 dogs killed in Irish pounds last year.

Irish dogs have only five days to be reclaimed – it’s seven in the UK – and they can be put down immediately if there’s no room in the pound. Dogs moving across the border must be vaccinated and quarantined for 21 days before travel.

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This has added about £180 to the cost of bringing Irish rescue dogs to the UK.

Heathlands run regular auctions on Facebook to raise money, and are currently running their Christmas one. They’re also putting on a Christmas sale at 14 Minster Road in Royston on December 5, from 11am to 3pm. If you’re interesting in fostering a dog, call 01763 244488 or email