Do Guide Dogs Realise How Lucky They Are?

 O J might feel sorry for himself at times, when he has to get his harness on and work and he doesn’t want to. He has a life of luxury compared to other dogs though, especially those who end up abandoned or unwanted in animal shelters.

O J does know that Pedigree treats are yummy! Pedigree doesn’t just provide food and tasty treats though. They regularly campaign to raise awareness of animal welfare, and encourage dog lovers to adopt one from their local shelter or welfare organisation. Their annual Pedigree Adoption Drive took place last month, but their hard work is ongoing. Check out their Facebook page to find out more.


 Recent statistics released by the Department of Environment, Community and Local government have shown that, on average, 44 dogs are abandoned in Ireland each day, whilst sadly a further 10 are put to sleep. Dog lovers like me will agree that this is a shocking statistic. I wanted to find out more about the help that is available for these dogs. Thanks to Lee from Edelman PR, I was able to put some questions to Carmel Murray from the Irish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA.)


 I asked Carmel how much of an impact the current economic situation in Ireland has on animals in this country.

“The economic downturn has greatly contributed to the number of dogs being abandoned, neglected and abused in Ireland.  Due to the recession, many families’ financial circumstances have changed. Some are left with no option but to emigrate, and others have to cut costs where they can due to loss of income. The ISPCA has experienced a significant increase in the number of calls for help regarding unwanted or neglected animals.”


 Anyone who has a guide/service dog knows that owning an animal is a big commitment. Guide dog organisations go through a lengthy process to make sure that all their applicants are suitable dog owners. People don’t just get dogs because they are blind and the dog will help them. They have to put in a lot of hard work, and prove that they are capable of caring for the dog not just on the application form but throughout the dog’s working life.

Bringing a dog into any new home isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly, as Carmel points out.

“Responsible pet ownership is not always thought through carefully with all members of the family.  The ISPCA always urge potential pet owners to seriously consider the costs involved in owning a pet e.g. food bills, veterinary treatments, time required and social aspects for pets. The ISPCA neuter/spay, vaccinate, worm, flea treat and micro-chip all dogs before being responsibly rehomed from the National Animal Centre.”


 So what can be done to change and promote responsible pet ownership?

“Education is vital to ensure responsible pet ownership.  Neutering is also a huge factor in reducing the number of unwanted animals. School visits to the ISPCA National Animal Centre in Longford is an integral part of our education programme.  Children are the key to the future of animal welfare in Ireland.”


 The dogs that end up coming to the ISPCA have been unfortunate enough to need a new home. How does the organisation ensure that they find the right one this time?

“The ISPCA invests heavily in animal rehabilitation before responsibly rehoming animals in our care. The ISPCA ensures all animals requiring our help receive veterinary treatment they require and that behavioural training and temperament assessment has been carried prior to being responsibly rehomed. We make every effort to ensure that all our dogs receive training and socialisation before finding the best homes in an environment which brings happiness to both dog and new owner. It should be borne in mind that many dogs rescued by the ISPCA have come from neglected and abused backgrounds and as such, some may have behavioural problems so on-going training, time and patience is required.  It is amazing with some TLC how quickly a dog begins to trust again.”


 As a guide dog owner, and someone who absolutely loves animals, I find it hard to understand the cruelty and neglect towards animals in this country. I depend on OJ to help me every day, and I can’t describe the strong bond I have with him. It’s something you probably don’t understand unless you actually own a guide or assistance dog. He’s an ordinary dog, but he’s so much more than that too. He has a unique personality and great patience. He has taught me a lot in the almost five years he’s been with me. Who’d have thought you could learn so much from a big black cuddly dog?

I understand that people have good intentions when they decide to own a dog. People’s circumstances can change beyond their control, and sometimes keeping a pet just isn’t practical or possible. Taking your dog to a great organisation such as the ISPCA enables it to be rehomed and gives it a second chance. Neglecting or mistreating it just isn’t acceptable, and there’s no excuse for such behaviour.


 I was happy to learn that many dogs rescued by the ISPCA not only go on to find new homes, but can be used as therapy dogs too, helping to make a positive difference in the lives of the people they meet.Visit the ISPCA’s website for more information.


I really hope that all the dogs who find new homes end up as happy as OJ is.



2 thoughts on “Do Guide Dogs Realise How Lucky They Are?

  1. What a great post. It’s really good you got that interview with the ISPCA. Our guide dogs are deffinetly so lucky. Can we use that the next time we get “oh that poor dog having to work”? Xxx.

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