According to official figures, dog ownership in the city is at an all time low - just one in every hundred own a dog. The current economic climate alongside policies of austerity may have contributed to the city falling out of love with man’s best friend.
People who can no longer afford to care for their dogs due to rising veterinary costs and declining incomes are handing in - sometimes dumping - their pets once they reach old age.
Figures for 2012 show that 268 dogs were seized in the city, with 57 voluntarily surrendered. Of those 189 were euthanized due to old age or pre existing medical conditions.
Marion Fitzgibbon, chairperson of Limerick Animal Welfare, believes the services on offer in the city and county are completely inadequate.
“We have a terrible crisis in Limerick because of the pound open hours being reduced. That’s just an hour and a half - it’s just ridiculous. Nobody has an opportunity to get out there - to see if their dogs have been picked up or even to give a dog a home - because the hours are so curtailed.”
Ms Fitzgibbon believes the reduced opening hours has led to an increase in the number of people dumping their dogs illegally.
The dog pound in Mungret has seen its opening hours dramatically reduced from 9.30am to 10.30pm Monday to Friday to just 9.30am to 11am - a severe reduction in service. The previous opening hours are still advertised on the Limerick City Council’s website even though the reduction took place last April.
A spokesperson for the Environment Department of the Limerick County Council said of the limited opening hours in Mungret:
“The one and a half hours would be as much as we can manage because we only have the two dog wardens covering the full city and county.
“We’d certainly love to provide more. We would find it difficult to cover the demands that’s there right now. The wardens do a very good job but they are stretched.”