Musician Sharon Shannon is urging people to rescue rather than buy a dog this Christmas, writes Arlene Harris
SHARON SHANNON is renowned for her musical talent but she also has a lesser-known passion. Growing up on a farm, she has always had a great affinity with animals, particularly dogs. And this Christmas she is urging people to think twice before buying a puppy.
“I’ve always adored animals and am deeply upset by cruelty to them,” she says. “I have four cats and six dogs and I also foster pups and strays in need of a home as pound dogs have five days to be claimed by a member of the public or by an animal rescue centre.
“On average, 15 dogs are destroyed daily in Irish pounds. So in most cases when you adopt a dog, you’re saving a life. There are thousands of adorable and totally unique mutts, and pedigree dogs, available for adoption from shelters or pounds all over the country.”
Everyone loves puppies and the perception is that dogs in shelters are old, unwanted and troubled, but Sharon says this is not the case.
“Some people don’t like the idea of adopting an ‘old’ dog, but if it’s a cute puppy they want, there are several litters of puppies at most of the rescue centres.” In fact most of the homeless dogs around the country are still young and on average 40% of them have a pedigree.
“Most dogs in shelter are there through no fault of their own. And for anyone worrying about an adopted dog being nervous, all it takes is a little bit of TLC. It’s so rewarding to watch a nervous dog blossoming into an amazing affectionate and loving companion.
“Alternatively some people might like to save a quiet senior dog who won’t be too energetic. Sadly these dogs are the ones most in danger of getting left behind, which is a shame as they often make very suitable loyal and loving companions for older people.”
The accordionist says thousands of dogs are living in abject cruelty all across the country.
“Ireland is the puppy farming capital of Europe,” she says. “Puppy-farm dogs are forced by cruel and greedy people to live their entire lives in cramped and filthy diseased conditions. And ultimately, this happens because puppy buyers, whether knowingly or not, are fuelling the trade.
“Most people will just look in the Buy and Sell section of a newspaper or buy from the boot of a car and assume all is above board. But if you don’t get a recommendation from the Kennel Club, there’s a 95% chance that you’re supporting a puppy-farm breeder. To be absolutely certain that you are not supporting this cruel practice, adopt a dog instead of buying one. “For people who are still determined that they want to buy a puppy, there are lots of pups available at the rescue centres where each animal will be healthy, vaccinated and in most cases micro-chipped.”
Despite just finishing a tour of Britain, organising a tour of Australia and playing gigs here, Sharon is determined to let people know of the need to think carefully before getting a pet.
“I have a new website dedicated to animals with lots of advice on how to adopt a rescue dog,” she says. “And I have done a short comedy music video to create awareness and promote rescued dogs and to show how intelligent and beautiful they are. It’s becoming a YouTube hit and people can find it by searching for ‘Sharon Shannon — Top Dog Gaffo’.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved