The founder of a dog rescue charity in Coleraine says that education is the key to stopping the scourge of unwanted pets in the Coleraine area.
As many rehoming centres across the Province become inundated with unwanted pets after Christmas, Maggie Dimesdale Bobby of Causeway Coast Dog Rescue, who has been rehoming dogs since the 1970’s, says that ‘dogs are for life, not just until you get fed up with them’.
Maggie, who founded the charity some years ago, had been rehoming dogs from her own Mountsandel home before the charity raised enough to have their own premises on the outskirts of Castleroe.
Times Reporter Nichola Neill spend the morning with Maggie, and her team of dedicated volunteers, and was surprised to hear of some of the stories.
Maggie revealed that one dog she had rescued had only been fed on jam sandwiches, simply because the owner didn’t have the money to feed the dog proper food.
“We get calls on a daily basis from people who no longer want dogs, or from people who have found dogs abandoned.
“I am not the kind of person who can say ‘No’, “ said Maggie who has seven dogs of her own, and has been called the ‘Mother Teresa of dogs’ by her team!
“I would love to be able to have enough volunteers to go out into schools and educate people on animal welfare and how to look after a dog.
“I know many people might find that a step too far, but if we teach our children about being good pet owners it will be carried on.
“You would be surprised how many calls we get from people who just say they don’t know how to look after a dog - if you had a new baby in the house you couldn’t just ring up and say you couldn’t look after it.
“Taking on a dog shouldn’t be a chore, they are a companion for life, and we must remember that.
“You just can’t give them up because you are moving house or can’t be bothered any more.
“Dogs are very intelligent animals they also have phycological issues, it’s amazing to see the change in a dog that has been poorly treated.”
Maggie and her volunteers regularly get calls about abandoned animals, many of whom are in bad condition.
“We rescued a dog in Portstewart recently that was in bad condition.
“But with a little TLC from our volunteers, the little chap was soon back on his feet and he was rehomed before Christmas.
“We get a lot of joy out of seeing dogs, like this, being rehomed. It makes it all worth while.”
Maggie also recieves calls from health authorities, she explains: “I often get calls from hospitals about patients who live on their own and have no one to look after their pets whilst they are in hospital. So we step in when we can.”
But Maggie and her helpers do more than just rehome dogs. Maggie and her team have been working with The Vineyard Church in Coleraine: “If we see that dog owners are in need of a little helping hand, whether it be through the food bank or some other advice, we can help.”
If you can spare a few hours each week to volunteer, Maggie would love to hear from you.
“There’s plenty of jobs to do, as long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty,” joked Maggie.
To view the dogs available for rehoming visit the facebook page or call at their Camus Lane base.