“Sometimes I wonder if I’ve become tougher having seen cruelty regularly in this job for the past nine years — but what I saw in this case absolutely broke my heart.”
Those were the words of The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) inspector for Cork, Lisa O’Donovan, after finding three dogs on the brink of death having been left in squalid conditions at a house in Youghal recently.
The ISPCA is Ireland’s largest national animal welfare charity and Ms O’Donovan said she came across such scenes on a regular basis but that the little Yorkshire Terrier and two Chihuahuas were in such atrocious condition during the visit, that she found herself on the brink of tears.
On arrival, Ms O’Donovan discovered the dogs living in a filthy back garden, littered with debris and faeces, with no access to clean water or food.
The only shelter available to the dogs was a cage with a dirty duvet inside.
Inspector O’Donovan visited on a rainy day, and found the duvet was soaking wet.
The male Yorkie was found with an intensely matted coat, in a state of collapse and barely moving.
One of the Chihuahuas was severely emaciated and the other pregnant.
The three dogs were seized and transferred for immediate veterinary attention.
The Yorkie, now named Benjamin Button, was found to be just a step away from death.
He was severely dehydrated and emaciated, and underneath his matted coat was just skin and bone.
The two Chihuahuas, now known as Bonnie and Clyde, received immediate care for dehydration and poor body weight.
Ms O’Donovan told the Evening Echo: “I nearly missed the Yorkie as he was curled up, terrified. My heart went out to him. To treat a little dog like that is beyond comprehension. It was horrendous.
“The smell was something like I’ve never experienced. I’ve seen a lot in my time but this really got under my skin.
“I want justice for dogs like this. They need to know that there are better days for them.”
Ms O’Donovan said the Yorkie was named Benjamin Button because of the fictitious character who ages backwards.
“We thought he was 15 or so, he looked so ancient and weak. It turns out he’s only five or so.
“We are seeing a couple of dogs a day like this. They come in all shapes and sizes.
“They deserve much better.”
Ms O’Donovan urged members of the public to consider adopting rescued animals.
“I would love to see all mistreated dogs get a second chance in life. Benjamin Button is like a different dog now, he’s already dancing. All three are healing.”
To report cruelty to an animal, contact 1890 515 515.
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.