Isn’t it time we stopped killing dogs?

See the picture with this article? It shows about 50 dogs. Not rabid strays. Not unkempt mongrels. All of these dogs in this photo were rescued by MADRA from being “put to sleep” in April alone. In Galway. That’s just one month. If you look at the picture again and double it, what you will see is the approximate number of dogs that are put to sleep in our city pound each year. Funded by ourselves. A sad indictment that so many animals abandoned through no fault of their own have to be killed, no matter how humanely the process is described or how Disneyified the ‘put to sleep” scenario sounds. Bottom line is Fido doesn’t wake up.

From 2011 to 2013, 324 dogs were killed. That’s more than half of the dogs that were cared for in the pound in that period. But surely there has to be a better way. Surely our city doesn’t want to be seen as a killing field for canines.

Plans are underway to upgrade the city dog pound. It will cost in the region of €125,000 to do this, but what are we getting from this? What are the dogs getting from this? Is it the case that the dogs are merely getting a much nicer place in which to spend the last few days of their lives? Is this not akin to hiring Gordon Ramsey to prepare healthier menu options for a condemned man’s last meal?

Killing dogs because we cannot rehome them is not an attribute that a city as proud as Galway would want to possess. Surely there has to be a better way. Galway is fortunate to be the home of several strong organisations which care for our animals. The GSPCAs, the Galway Cat Rescue, the MADRAs. These are the unsung heroes who while we’re sleeping are collecting abandoned dogs from roadsides and ditches.

MADRA this year celebrates its tenth anniversary. So proficient are its members at protecting canine welfare and saving hundreds of dogs from death every year that their expertise is used throughout the country. In Galway county and in Mayo, they have reduced the ‘put to sleep’ rate to 11 per cent and they are confident they can do that in Galway City.

MADRA will next Monday make a proposal to the Galway City Council proposing they have a solution to the high euthanasia rates at the Ballybane Road facility. MADRA is looking to establish a formal arrangement with Galway City Council, whereby they will endeavour to work closely with the City Council and its representatives to ensure that no healthy dog is put-to-sleep in the city. They can do this through their expertise in rehoming and housing dogs.

Earlier this year, the City Council and Cllr Pearse Flannery in particular deserved great praise for ensuring that circus acts that use animals as part of their shows, and then transport then and treat them in an inhumane manner are no longer allowed on council property in the city. It was a sign from Galway that as well as looking after all its citizens, the city wants to look after its animals as well. Now it is time to seriously address this dog-killing issue.

MADRA chairperson Edel Comerford is confident that they will have the support of our city’s elected representatives. And so she should. Who is going to vote for a continuation of an assembly line of canine euthanasia? In 2013, the city council spent €68,000 on dealing with 190 dogs. In the same period, MADRA collected almost 800 dogs on a budget of €160,000.

By using the expertise of MADRA, the reputation of Galway city as a place where animals are valued, cared for, and rehomed can be enhanced. It is up to the councillors to see this and make a decision that proves that everything that has a beating heart in Galway is welcome here.

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