New homes for six hundred animals from closed research lab

Emily, one of the dogs that was rehomed.

Emily, one of the dogs that was rehomed.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA ) has completed a project to rehome 603 animals — 346 dogs, mostly beagles, and 257 cats — from a research facility in Mayo which closed in 2016.

The ISPCA was approached by Charles River Laboratories in August 2016 to discuss the prospect of rehoming as many of the animals as possible, and following a series of meetings agreement was reached on the most effective way of rehoming the animals.

Animal care staff were retained at the facility to enable the animals to be cared for in situ until they could be processed for release from the facility. All of the dogs and cats had to be neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and health checked by veterinary surgeons before they could be removed for rehoming.

Many of the dogs also required to be socialised before being introduced to their new environment. This included training the dogs to walk on a leash and introducing them to new and unfamiliar experiences.

A new outdoor exercise area was created and a mock-up of a domestic environment created, complete with living room equipped with sofa and television so that the dogs would be able to adapt to their new homes in due course.

The ISPCA realised it would be difficult to deal with such a large number of dogs and cats, and called on Dogs Trust Ireland and Cats Protection for their assistance. The process began in December 2016 when a small number of animals (10 dogs and 12 cats ) were removed, initially on a trial basis, and transported to the ISPCA’s National Animal Centre in Longford. As expected, the animals adapted to their new environment quickly and all were successfully rehomed.

It has taken more than 12 months to remove all the dogs and cats from the facility. Small groups were removed on a monthly basis to enable the successful rehoming of the animals.

The pilot was the first of its kind in Ireland and the ISPCA was pleased to have been given the opportunity to rehome these animals. Careful planning undeniably aided the success of the project. Many staff members working at the closed research facility adopted some of the animals themselves, and they did everything they could to support a successful outcome.

The ISPCA is still seeking homes for nine beagles and 15 cats which are available for adoption, and is appealing to anyone looking to get a new pet to consider adopting from a rescue rather than buying one. For more information, visit www.ispca.ie/rehoming/dogs_rehoming, email [email protected], or call (043 ) 3325035.

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