‘A pet is not an extension of a toy, it is a long-term commitment’

Two pups from an unwanted litter of eight St Columb's Animal Rescue & Rehoming (SCARR) rrecently took in. Both are looking for new homes.
Two pups from an unwanted litter of eight St Columb's Animal Rescue & Rehoming (SCARR) rrecently took in. Both are looking for new homes.

A local rescue group has urged people to think hard before getting a pet and to go to rescue organisations before buying from breeders.

St Columb’s Animal Rescue and Rehoming was set up by three local women who all had a background volunteering for other rescue organisations.

Anne Marie O'Hara pictured during a fundraising day for SCARR

Anne Marie O'Hara pictured during a fundraising day for SCARR

Catherine Magill, Anne-Marie O’Hara and Jolene McLaughlin set up SCARR last year and have cared for countless animals since.

Last year they rehomed 250 animals and racked up vet bills of over £35,000.

Since January this year, they have rehomed 232 pets.

They believe the calls they and other animal rescue organisations get are ‘only the tip of the iceberg’.

Pickles is two years of age and seeking her forever home

Pickles is two years of age and seeking her forever home

“For every call we get there are probably 30 more that we don’t get,” Anne-Marie said.

SCARR get calls for a whole host of reasons, including animals which have been abandoned, people who are unable to keep their beloved pet because of rental rules or even tragically in the case of a death of a pet owner.

One of the more bizarre pets the organisation has been contacted to rescue was a lamb, which had been kept in a box in second floor flat.

“It was wearing a nappy, had been kept in a cardboard box and had been fed either cow’s milk or goat’s milk. We gave ‘Georgie’ the lamb to a farm who tried their best, but sadly it didn’t make it,” Catherine said.

Jolene McLaughlin, from St Columb's Annimal Rescue & Rehoming, with her foster dog Meg

Jolene McLaughlin, from St Columb's Annimal Rescue & Rehoming, with her foster dog Meg

The organisation has a host of volunteers who take in animals and foster them until they get adopted.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” Jolene said. “We carry out home checks and see what other animals and children they have. Then we will help them out as much as we can with donations of food and litter. We need dedicated, committed volunteers to join the team, even people to help us walk the animals or take them to the vet.”

Anne-Marie said they don’t like to turn any animals away but sometimes they don’t have enough fosterers.

“Sometimes we do have to signpost people to other rescue centres or ask people to hold onto an animal for a couple of days if we know a spot is becoming available. At one stage both Catherine and Jolene were in double figures with the animals they were fostering.”

Catherine Magill, from St Columb's Rescue & Rehoming, with one of her own dogs

Catherine Magill, from St Columb's Rescue & Rehoming, with one of her own dogs

They have urged anyone who would be keen to volunteer with the organisation or to fundraise on their behalf to get in touch.

“We will always accept donations of cat and dog food and kitty litter or if someone would like to contribute to our vet bill that would be brilliant.”

They are also on the hunt for responsible people to give animals their forever home.

“We are looking for responsible people to adopt animals. At this time of the year we would encourage people to come to a shelter if they are looking for a pet rather than go on some of these sites to put money into the hands of breeders,” Anne-Marie said.

“If you decide the dog or cat isn’t for you then the breeder is not going to take it back.Tthe animal will come to the likes of us in the rescue community.

“A dog is like having a commitment to a toddler for an average of 17 years. People need to make sure they are choosing the right dog for them and that they have the time to invest into that animal.

“An animal is not an extension of a toy, it is a long term commitment”, Anne-Marie added. “If you are considering a pet come to talk to us first and we can give you advice.”

The adoption fee is £125 for dogs and £45 for cats. The animal will be spayed or neutered and will have had its first and second injections and a full health check.

To find out more about SCARR, see the animals currently looking for a forever home, the latest fundraising events or to find out how to get involved visit https://www.facebook.com/SCARR.NI/
To donate via paypal stcolumbsanimalrescue@gmail.com