UL Journalism Society Travel to the Limerick Animal Welfare
By PAM RYAN
The Journalism Society at the University of Limerick took a trip to the Limerick Animal Welfare in Moorestown, Kilfinane on March 7. Leaving on a bus from the Arena at 9:30am there were many sleepy heads but on arrival the excitement was heard in the high pitched voices cooing over animals with baby talk that would have sounded extremely creepy and inappropriate in any other context. We were given a tour of the facilities which currently include dog kennels, a cat unit, rabbit hutches and vast amounts of land for horses, pigs, goats, and the cutest little Shetland ponies I’ve ever seen. There is also an unfinished main building that The Sanctuary is currently raising money for.
Then the work began. Each of us was given a dog – temporarily - and we brought them for a walk. In many cases we were being walked by the dogs but we didn’t mind much. We were caught in a small hailstorm but suffered on and luckily missed the downpour that was to follow. Many walker/dog bonding relationships occurred and dogs were named based on personality traits. Mine, for instance, I had christened Tenshie because she was the most pretentious dog I had ever met. But I loved her anyway. Arriving back at The Sanctuary we hungrily sat for lunch before realising we had lost three of our walkers. On calling them we were immediately received by their voicemails. Panic ensued. Then we got over it and ate without them. After many theories had floated about like mutant dog people in the hills, they arrived eventually, and fully intact.
Next was the fun bit; washing the dogs. The cooing and giggles were joined by bubbles and squirming puppies. Drying wasn’t so easy because a few were afraid of the hair dryers but seeing a dog play with a towel and get all caught up in it is a laughable sight to say the least. Feeding time and washing up was the prelude to about an hour of sitting in kennels and cuddling puppies and kittens.
Before we left we weeded out one of the outdoor kennels until it was immaculate. There was an accident or two with overturned wheelbarrows but we did an excellent job all the same. The sight of the bus approaching was one of sadness for me. The most difficult thing about volunteering at The Sanctuary is having to leave.
LAW is a registered charity since 1983. It is dedicated to caring and rehoming animals from the entire Limerick area. Over the past five years alone they have saved and rehomed more than 2,000 animals. The Sanctuary has a no-kill policy except in circumstances of irreversible ill-health. They offer talks to primary schools and secondary schools and frequently have these students out to visit the animals and volunteer at The Sanctuary. It now provides shelter for up to 60 dogs and puppies, 50 cats and kittens, numerous rabbits, goats, pigs, horses, ponies and donkeys.
The Sanctuary is currently trying to raise money for the finishing of the new main building which will cost around €1m and the isolation kennel for cats and kittens. Donations can be made using PayPal, Wordplay or directly into The Sanctuary’s bank account or fund. Donations can also be made in their charity shop at 59 Parnell Street, Limerick.
People can volunteer at The Sanctuary by walking the dogs, feeding the animals, washing up after feeding time, scrubbing out kennels, litter trays and rabbit hutches, helping staff give veterinary treatments, and washing and grooming the animals. Volunteers must be over the age of 16.
It is an experience I would recommend to anyone, and not just once. It was not only amazingly fun but we helped so much. Animal sanctuaries have limited resources and are always happy to see young, passionate, hard-working students arriving at their doors. Feeding and providing shelter for animals is extremely good work but the animals themselves loved the attention and affection they received on the day. That transition from the sad puppy dog eyes to the pricked ears and wagging tail really warms your heart.
Tel. 063 91110 or 087 6371044.