DoneDeal visits Celtic Animal Life Line centre

Gill Brady, who started her own dog rescue centre eight years, has plenty of harrowing tales to tell of animal cruelty and neglect. However, some at least have happy endings, writes Linda Daly Second up on our rescue centre travels is Celtic Animal Life Line, a Kildare-based rescue centre that is run by another remarkable woman, Gill Brady. Abandoned in the snow: Elric It was one of those rare sunny September days when my daughter Rachel and I headed to meet Gill in the village of Kill, Co Kildare. Our meeting point was the Dew Drop Inn, which was littered with a handful of patrons on that early Saturday afternoon. Kennel costs Gill’s operation is different to Tipp-Off’s (which we visited previously) in that, while she keeps sick dogs and pups at home, she houses the majority in kennels, paying €1,000 a month for accommodation alone. There’s no gasp of shock from me (although there really should be) when she tells me it comes out of her own pocket – it seems to be the way with these animal rescue workers. Her funding comes from donations from fundraisers, including All For Animals calendar sales. She also arranges other fundraising projects to support her rescue’s costs, as well as receiving through funding her own work and from adopters’ donations. She also has a great relationship with her vet, who showed her how to vaccinate. Gill became heavily involved in animal rescue around the late 1990s after coming across Irish Animals, which was the primary pet resource website in Ireland at the time. Foster care She started visiting the South Dublin County Council dog pound, taking photos of dogs that needed to be re-homed and putting them on the website. It wasn’t long before she adopted one of those animals herself, a German Shepherd who had bone cancer and died three months later. “What happens is, you do something like that and start to foster, and then you start to foster more, and you get sucked into it. I always say rescuing is like the mafia, once you start you can’t get out,” she jokes. Celtic Animal Life Line officially came into being in 2003 and became a registered charity in 2004. Since then, Celtic Animal Life Line has rescued and rehomed thousands of dogs. We spend the next hour talking while Rachel flicks through the beautifully photographed All for Animals calendar – I know it’s early but consider putting this on your Christmas gift list. Gill tells me some harrowing and moving stories. Disturbing tales The worst scenario she ever encountered was a few years ago. Children, all under the age of 10, had hammered 40 nails into a dog’s body. She was found bleeding and close to death but miraculously, after months of treatment and much care, survived. On another occasion, Gill was asked to assist a flea-invested dog who had been surrendered into the pound. The shaggy-haired creature’s coat was so matted that the pound workers didn’t even notice what lay underneath. When Gill went in, she lifted up his hair and saw that the dog’s eye was literally hanging out of the socket, the result of a full-force kick. Unfortunately, the vets couldn’t save his eye but they did save his life. Gill explains that animal abuse transcends all economic borders, and can happen in all classes and areas. Providing care “I don’t judge a home physically. It’s about the owners and their ability to give the dogs a good life, to walk them, exercise them, bring them to a vet when needed, provide companionship and care for the animal. And that can happen in a small house.” This year has been the worst year in Gill’s memory for people abandoning dogs and she says many other rescue centres have reported the same. Getting the message out Ultimately, says Gill, we need to change the system to educate people about pets. She hopes to start visiting schools to educate the children. It’s worth pointing out that not all rescue dogs have been badly treated. On one occasion, Gill was asked to take in two much-loved dogs by their owner who was going in to St Luke’s hospice to never return home. Worming and neutering Gill is the second animal rescue operator who advocates and actively encourages the neutering of dogs. In fact, she says it’s cruel not to have your dog neutered. “If you neuter your dog, he or she will be a happier, healthier dog. Males will be less territorial and will suffer from less stress due to the reduction in testosterone. Females will also be healthier, less inclined to roam, or suffer from certain cancers.” Worms can also be a huge problem and Gill pleads with owners to ensure their new pups have been wormed. “Once a friend of mine came to me with her pup but didn’t have a worming card. I wormed him and, for two days, worms came out of that pup’s nose, mouth and backside,” she says. “A bad case of worms can kill a pup.” The lucky ones After our hour-long chat, we head for one of the kennels where Gill homes dogs. Located in Kildare on 400 acres of lush countryside, the kennels provide the dogs with plenty of space and freedom to run around during playtime. There, I meet two young boxers, Clara and Bandit, who had been left into a vet to be destroyed after their owners’ marriage broke up. The vet refused to do it and called Gill. I also meet a one-year-old Labrador-Boxer cross, who arrived here with a completely matted coat. After six months of good treatment and nutritious food, I’m struck at how beautiful Raphi’s coat is. It’s gleaming. Gill takes in a mixture of big and small dogs and we meet Elric, a Jack Russell who was found abandoned in the snow. All are very excited to see their rescuer and the stranger who accompanies her, with all traces of their former mistreatment having disappeared. When I meet her, Gill has 13 dogs in her care between the kennels and her home. She says life would be a lot easier if there were foster homes for the dogs. It’s not a bad idea.