By Louise Walsh
Up to 35 dogs a month are being reluctantly surrendered because of the homeless crisis, according to the owner of an animal sanctuary who has described the regular scenes as 'heartbreaking'.
Lynne Archer of the long-established Collon Animal Sanctuary in Co. Louth says there is now a waiting list for people who want to surrender their dogs - many due to being made homeless.
The well-respected animal lover has rescued and rehomed over 30,000 dogs in over 35 years in operation but says that seeing visually distressed families saying goodbye to their pets has been some of the most difficult moments in her time at the centre.
The sanctuary takes in an average of 50 dogs a month and Lynne says that up to 35 of these are due to owners becoming homeless.
A further eight a month are left at the haven because owners have lost their jobs and can't afford their pets, she says.
The remainder are taken in due to a variety of other reasons.
"They are coming from all over the place - not just the north-east - wanting to leave their dogs in," she said.
"We are seeing such sad stories. People whose houses have been repossessed and they have to move into smaller apartments where there's either no room for a dog or the landlord won't let them keep them.
"There are people moving into emergency accommodation who can't take their dogs and then there are people who have to move back home with their parents and can't bring their dogs with them
"We are also seeing another at least eight dogs a month who are brought to us because their owners tell us they've lost their jobs - despite the so-called economic boom - and can no longer afford them.
"In the last year, I can easily say that eight or nine dogs a month are being surrendered here because of the homeless crisis.
"Depending on the dog, some bounce back after being left here , some are slightly aggressive because they're afraid and others really go into themselves.
"We just have to give them constant care and attention but the dogs are really affected by being separated from their beloved families.
"I can honestly say I haven't seen things as bad as this since the 80s in terms of dogs being surrendered. It was bleak then but it's worse now and there doesn't seem to be any resolution to this.