Limerick animal sanctuary closed over Halloween due to 'overcrowding'

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Limerick Animal Welfare: chairperson Marion Fitzgibbon

Limerick Animal Welfare: chairperson Marion Fitzgibbon

LIMERICK Animal Welfare’s sanctuary in Kilfinane has had to close its doors temporarily to new rescues due to overcrowding, as the charity continues to struggle to raise enough money to operate.

The animal refuge, which requires €60,000 every month just to operate due to the high veterinary bills, will be closed during the Halloween period - which can be a notoriously dangerous time for the welfare of stray animals.

Chairperson Marion Fitzgibbon is urging people to be mindful of the welfare of their pets and stray animals, as Halloween hijinks can cause huge distress to dogs and cats.

“We’ve had to close down for two weeks, we are totally unable to cope,” Ms Fitzgibbon told the Limerick Leader.

“We are already dealing with bangers and fireworks, and the storms also caused distress for lots of animals,” she said.

The sanctuary is still open to visitors, but the volunteers cannot accept any more animals until they have rehomed some of the hundreds of pets waiting for new homes.

“We are closed over Halloween. We will be trying to do some accident and emergency for injured animals. But for any healthy animals, unless they are in urgent need, and unless we rehome loads of dogs and cats in the next couple of days, we have no space,” said Ms Fitzgibbon.

In a post to Facebook, the charity announced the closure: “The directors of Limerick Animal Welfare regret to announce that the sanctuary will be closed from Saturday 21st October until Monday 6th November, due to severe overcrowding.

“The sanctuary will be open every day from 12 noon until 3pm, if you can help by giving a dog or cat a home. We have a large number of puppies, kittens and older dogs and cats to choose from. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.”

Ms Fitzgibbon said that loud bangers and fireworks during Halloween can sound like gunfire and “can really alarm” dogs. The closure, she said, was necessary for the health and safety of the animals.

“There’s a limit, we have dogs everywhere. All of our animals are supposed to be in designated areas, but we have too many animals coming in altogether – we had nine come in there on one day recently. They are all off the street, and we know nothing about them. We need time to process and treat them, and the ones that need to be separated need to be in our isolation unit, which is totally full up,” she said.

CEO of the ISPCA, Dr Andrew Kelly, also issued a warning for pet owners.

“The noise and activity of Halloween can distress pets and the ISPCA strongly recommend that you keep your pets indoors, and ensure you have all of your pets microchipped so that they can be returned if they get lost or stolen.

“Halloween is also a dangerous time for our wildlife so ensure you check all wood, scrub and leaves for hibernating hedgehogs before lighting any bonfires,” he added.

Horses and farm animals can also become upset by Halloween festivities, so their welfare also needs to be considered.

“If you witness an animal being subjected to cruel treatment, please notify your local Gardaí immediately and contact the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.”