Carry An Animal Assistance Card

Your pet depends on you for constant care and protection. The thought of leaving them alone if you become ill, get in any kind of trouble or unable to tend to them for any unforeseeable reason is not only distressing for you, but it can put the entire future of your pet in jeopardy. It is wise to have a steady arrangement should any inevitable emergency comes in your way.

Athlone Animal Welfare has come up with a solution to prepare for this upsetting scenario. We are developing an Animal Assistance card that you can keep in your wallet, purse or somewhere visible in the house such as on the fridge door.  They will be available for free at your local vet’s clinic and pet shops in Athlone.

This wallet size card will contain your basic details, your pet’s name and type and details of two persons you nominate to take care of your pet. The purpose of this card is pretty basic; in the case you get in any kind of critical situation, keeping this card in your wallet at all times will make it easier for anyone who finds it to contact your trusted nominees and ensure your pet is in safe hands and being taken care of until you’re unable to.

We also suggest every dog owner register for Canine Care Cards at Dogs Trust. In case of any life threatening circumstances, these cards will prove to be a great assistance in ensuring safety of your dog and your peace of mind.

 Microchipping your pet

The long awaited Animal Health and Welfare Bill was finally passed by the Oireachas on 22nd May 2013. The new legislation will introduce mandatory microchipping of all dogs by 2016.

Microchipping is a simple way to make sure that your pet can easily be identified. The microchip is a tiny computer chip which has a unique code programmed into it. The code is a 15 digit identification number which can be read by a scanner. The whole device is roughly equivalent to the size of a grain of rice. It is small enough to fit inside a needle and can be simply injected under your pets’ skin between the shoulder blades. The microchip is inert and biocompatible, so the dogs’ body will not reject it.  It provides a permanent identification which cannot be lost, altered or intentionally removed.

What are the benefits?

  1. Reunite lost pets with their owners– Microchip identification is a highly effective way of reuniting owners with lost or straying beloved pets.  The pet is registered on the national database along with the owner’s name, address and telephone number. Although a collar with a tag is a great help, they can fall off or be removed.
  2. Reduce numbers of dogs destroyed– According the Department of Environment and Local Government 17477 dogs entered pounds in Ireland in 2012. An average of 12 dogs or puppies were put to sleep each day, 4500 in total. Statistics shows 7159 were rehomed or reclaimed. Compulsory microchipping, should alter these figures dramatically reducing the numbers of dogs being destroyed because their owner could not be traced.
  3. Simple procedure– It only takes a matter of minutes to both implant a microchip and register owner details on a reunification database. No anaesthetic is required and the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard vaccination.
  4. Financial savings for animal welfare groups and local authorities – the new measures will help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, discourage the abandonment of dogs, reduce the burden on animal welfare charities and reduce the cost to local authorities of kennelling.
  5. Promotes owner responsibility and accountability– Compulsory microchipping encourages responsible pet ownership by increasing the traceability and accountability of pet owners, breeders and sellers.  According to The chairman of the sheep committee of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) Paul Brady “out-of-control dogs” can be “highly dangerous”. He said that sheep and other livestock were not only at risk but also children, citing “several incidents of dogs attacking children” last year. Farmers are particularly welcoming of the microchipping measure hoping it will make pet owners accountable for financial losses they incur as a result of out-of control dogs.
  6. Requirements for pet passport and IKC registration– Microchipping is already one of the criteria of travelling abroad with your pet under the pet passport scheme.  Since 2006 all pedigree puppies must be microchipped before being registered with the Irish Kennel Club.

What could go wrong?

  1. Failure to complete registration or incorrect registration – Estimates reveal that in the region of 100,000 microchips are incorrectly registered in Ireland. In some cases no registration was ever submitted. Failure to update data is the most common problem. Data must be updated when people move house or change contact numbers, where animals are surrendered or rehomed. To help address this situation Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Association with Fido has launched a FREE data verification scheme for owners of chipped dogs.
  2. Failure to read the microchip– There are gaps in efficiency. Since there are multiple databases of pet microchip implant information, animal shelter employees may not automatically know which one to contact with an animal’s identification number to find its owner. There are currently four Irish databases that are full members of EPN: IKC, DSPCA and FIDO and Animark. Not all pet microchip implants use the same radio frequency, so they can’t all be read with the same scanner. It may be difficult for a shelter to read the information on your pet’s microchip implant.
  3. Misconceptions– Microchip technology cannot track you pet. Is not a GPS system, however, it does provide traceability if the animal brought to a vet, a shelter or a pound and can be scanned. Microchips will not prevent your pet from being stolen. There are approximately 200 dogs per week stolen in this country.
  4. Lack of full enforcement– Many dog owners currently flout the laws they should be following ( poop-scooping, leasing in certain areas and dogs wearing a collar with an up-to-date ID tag with the name and address of the owner) Some 3,540 on-the-spot fines were issued by local authorities in 2012 with just 1,616 paid and a total of 316 prosecutions.
  5. Financial cost– Cash strapped pet lovers may come under increased financial pressure with mandatory microchipping. Currently there is a once off complete cost ranging between 20-50 Euros. However, many animal welfare organisations are committed to offering this service at a subsidised and reduced rate.

The new legislation for the compulsory microchipping of dogs has been broadly welcomed by animal welfare organisations and veterinary professionals. It is expected that the measure will assist with ensuring that animal health and welfare standards are maintained and hopefully improved. It is widely recognised as the most effective method for permanent identification of your pet provided it is backed up by a well-organised central database monitored by a State authority.

Kitten Season – What Can You Do to Help?

Kitten season is the time of year when cats give birth; flooding AAW and other busy animal rescue shelters across the country with homeless litters.

When the warm weather coincides with female cats’ reproduction cycles, they go into heat, sending the male cat population into a mating frenzy; visiting the ladies from near and far. This usually begins in spring, peaks early summer and runs right through to October.

As you can imagine, the cats are not the only ones feeling the effects of the stress. The burden also presents enormous challenges for us here at AAW, with space and finances stretched to the limit and, on top of our usual compliment of rescued animals; we are inundated with hundreds of homeless cats.

Typically the adult cats suffer the immediate affects as they are overlooked by potential new families when kittens are available in abundance; increasing the risk of feline illness and death.

So, what can you, the public do to help?

Firstly, the most efficient way to reduce the overwhelming burden of unwanted cats is to spay or neuter your own cat. Unaltered cats are driven by hormones and will sneak outdoors in search of a mate. It’s important to know that mating just the once can start a cycle that will result in thousands of unwanted animals who are often left to fend for themselves and end up arriving en masse here at AAW.

catsBelow are some guidelines to follow if you come across a mother cat and her litter:

Firstly, try to establish if the family is tame or feral.

If the cat miaows and responds to you giving her food and water then she’s most likely tame. Give them shelter but NEVER SEPARATE MOTHER AND KITTENS; keeping them together in a garden shed, downstairs loo, cloakroom or utility room and ring AAW.

In the event the sanctuary is full and we are unable to take the kittens in, we will assist you in helping to rehome them via our website and Facebook page.

If the mother and her kittens hiss and warn you off, then it’s likely they’re feral. If the kittens have opened their eyes fully, (this usually occurs at around 2 weeks when eyes begin to open slightly, getting wider as the weeks progress), it’s likely the kittens can see and may try to defend themselves by biting you.

In this case, leave them alone, again, NEVER SEPARATE MOTHER AND KITTENS.Its important to understand, even though the family is feral, there is every chance the kittens can be tamed, and can be re-homed when they are ready to leave their mother.

Either way, it is imperative that you do not ever remove or separate the kittens from their mother; to do so could mean their certain death.

Remember, feral cats deserve to be taken care of just as much as the tame ones who live with us. They are very often the victims of abandonment and failure by owners to spay/neuter their own pets.

It’s no secret that many rescue kittens, feral or tame, have been influenced negatively by early separation from the mother. Sometimes an unwitting member of the public brings a litter of unwanted kittens to our rescue and rehoming centre too early as it’s often assumed they’ve been abandoned by the mother when she is actually away finding food or is trying to keep humans and other unwelcome prey away from her nest area.

Kitten Development:
Here are the Facts: Kittens separated too early from their mother can suffer a variety of psychological and health problems because they miss out on critical physical and emotional milestones that occur during the early weeks of life.

For example, if they are deprived of their mother’s milk too soon their immune system is compromised making them susceptible to a wide variety of illnesses, in particular, respiratory conditions. Also, rushed weaning will mean they are inclined to suffer from severe diarrhea caused by a rapid shift to solid food. This condition is very often life threatening as the kittens become dehydrated and lose weight quickly.Kittens suffer poor socialisation skills because it’s during the early weeks when the mother teaches them which behaviours are appropriate. Separated too early, kittens are likely to be hostile and aggressive towards humans and other pets, even cats. This is because they have never learned to interpret feline body language, having missed out on the process with their mother. Overall a kitten separated too early from the mother is insecure, less tolerant and will experience health problems. Take a look at our Kitten Development table below:

3 weeks     The mother and her kittens begin to interact. She grooms them and prevents them from becoming over-demanding and aggressive. Kittens will begin to explore just outside of the kitten box.
4 weeks     Kittens begin to accept semi-solid food and can also be taught how to use a litter tray which should be placed close to the kitten box.
6 weeks     Kittens learn through play. They begin to explore further away from the kitten box.
8 weeks     Kittens are fully weaned onto solid food and first vaccinations can be given around 9 weeks.

Halloween Tips

Tips from AAW to keep your pet out of trouble and safe from harm this Halloween!

  1. No tricks, no treats: Treats are for trick-or-treaters, not furry or feathered friend!!
  • Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate—and even seizures.
  • Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.
  • Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
  1. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed.