Shocking pictures show skeletal dogs tied to gate in Galway as animal charity warns of ‘scary’ rise in abandonments

A Galway animal charity has warned they are seeing a “scary” number of dogs being abandoned with some suffering “horrific medical issues”

The MADRA shelter has seen a massive increase in the number of dogs needing to be re-homed since restrictions were lifted.

Over the Christmas period, 88 dogs have been collected – a 76 per cent increase on last year.

But the condition of some of the animals being found has been described as “horrific”.

The charity recently shared disturbing images of ‘skeletal’ dogs who had been dumped by their owners.

All photos courtesy of MADRA

Operations Director of MADRA, Dawn Divilly, said the rise in the number of dogs needing to be rehomed is down to a “combination of reasons”, but said the pandemic is the primary reason.

“Dog ownership increased dramatically during the lockdown in 2020, when everyone went into the first lockdown. Our adoption applications just tripled overnight,” she said.

“And we were absolutely swamped with people looking to get a dog. We didn’t have enough dogs at that point in time to do all the applications.

“That was the same for all the rescues in the UK and Ireland. Everybody wanted a dog because I suppose they were at home or they were working remotely and most people got dogs,” she added.

Ms Divilly said with the return to normality after the pandemic meant people have less time for their pets.

“Now, unfortunately, we did predict this. So what we’re seeing now, I suppose, is the reality of people’s bought dogs that maybe are going back to work.

“Maybe they didn’t talk through the consequences of getting a dog or the commitment involved in getting a dog.

“Maybe they were hoping to carry on working remotely but they have to go back into the office. “So we are getting a lot of people who got dogs during the pandemic who can’t keep the dogs,” she said.

She said to meet demand for puppies during the pandemic the number of breeding dogs increased.

“That’s a really serious issue, particularly with the Collies which they can have up to 10 puppies. We’ve had a call this morning with somebody who has eight Collies puppies, that she can’t look after,” she said.

Ms Divilly said that it is impossible to tell if the wave of dog abandonment can decrease and get back to normal numbers. 

“I certainly hope so. The scale at the moment is very scary for all the rescues. We’re a small rescue and we are under serious pressure at the moment with the number of dogs that we have taken over the last couple of months.We have a long waiting list of people who are waiting for us to take their dogs.

“We have a shelter in Connemara which is completely full. We are also using other kennels facilities that we’re paying for to take in dogs and we have a lot of dogs out in foster homes” she said.

She added that the majority of dogs being rescued are Collies or ‘farm’ dogs in Connemara, but “it’s across the board”.

All photos courtesy of MADRA

“These last two weeks we’ve had three really serious cases of dogs that have been abandoned and one of the dogs was abandoned to a pound with horrific medical issues. And then, just this week a few days ago, two lurchers were found tied to the gate to the city pound. They were in shocking condition. They are absolutely skeletal,” she said.

However, the charity said a number of steps can be taken to reduce the number of animals needing to be rehomed.

“We do encourage people that they should be neutering their dogs so that their dogs don’t have any unwanted litters,” said Ms Divilly.

“People should always get their dogs microchipped because sometimes dogs might go lost and end up being abandoned, because they haven’t been microchipped.

“So microchipping is a legal requirement in Ireland and doesn’t cost that much. It is hugely important. Ultimately, getting a dog is a huge commitment. Some dogs will live up to 18 years or more. It is essentially another member of the family.

“People should think really carefully about getting a dog that is a good match for them and their lifestyle,” she said.

For more information about dog shelter and adoption, you can visit

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