STUDENTS in St Anne’s Community College have pivoted to video in order to put across their message about stopping animal cruelty, writes Dan Danaher.
Transition Year students had planned to deliver a power point presentation about animal welfare for primary school students in Killaloe and Ballina.
However, they opted not to proceed with these plans due to the high incidence of Covid-19 and are now planning to film students giving an overview of their research project in a new video.
Rebecca Rogers, Daniel Spaight, Amy Reilly and Dominik Maslanek are in the media group for their Young Social Innovators project.
Having surveyed students in their class, the four teenagers discovered most of them had an animal at home and animal welfare was a topic that really interested the majority of the class.
As part of their research for this YSI project, the students looked at Irish case studies of animal cruelty and are making posters to raise public awareness around the twin communities of Ballina and Killaloe.
Rebecca Rodgers, Killaloe, said students who weren’t happy with the disgraceful way some animals were treated wanted to raise public awareness about the importance of treating them properly.
Her family took in two dogs from an animal rescue centre when she was four, which has fostered a love of animals.
“Animals are not just something we purchase for Christmas, we have them for life,” said Rebecca pointing out that 3.2 million dogs and 3.2 million cats are put into kill shelters every year around the world.”
“Anyone who sees animal cruelty should report it to the Irish Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA),” she added.
Rebecca recommended that people should conduct proper research about what is involved in looking after an animal before they buy one.
“A dog needs about two walks a day, and needs to be let outside for regular breaks. The amount of exercise depends on what kind of a dog you have. Some dogs are more energetic than others.”
She encouraged people to adopt an animal from somewhere like an animal shelter rather than purchasing from a puppy farm.
Daniel Spaight, Killaloe, has a Border Collie dog in his Killaloe home since 2016.
During the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, he recalled there were a lot of reports about animals being abused and animal shelters being overwhelmed after a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned animals, which was a shame to see.
“I love playing with my dog. It is a shame to see dogs being abandoned and killed for no particular good reason. I enjoyed working on the project. It was quite fun to do.
“It is shocking that so many cats and dogs are killed every year, but very little is done about it. Anyone who takes in an animal needs to treat it properly by training and feeding it.”
He said people should also make financial donations to animal shelters in their own locality.
Amy Reilly from Cloontra near Clonlara believes animal welfare is a very important topic as she has owned dogs all her life.
She can’t understand why people would want to hurt them or neglect them, which is why she feels that more people around the country need to be educated on this subject.
She said many pets end up being neglected or abused as people either don’t have the time or the patience to handle them.
“Many people think that buying a pet for a Christmas present or birthday present, mainly dogs, is a great idea as they are cute animals whom you can teach to sit or play catch.”
“I personally do not find this fair on the dog or other pets, as along with teaching tricks, you have to toilet train, bring to vet appointments, exercise, feed and water, wash and many other things along with them.
“They are also very expensive depending on the breed that you have as some pets are more high maintenance than others.”
Stressing the importance of public awareness, she proposed this can be increased by posting about this topic on social media and highlighting it in the mainstream media.
From working on the project, she learned fines for animal abuse can be up to to €250,000 or up to five years in prison or both depending on the circumstances.
She also discovered that after the lockdown, the Clare Animal Shelter in Ennis, had a high number of animals, mainly dogs, returned or found on the streets. This occurred in many other shelters throughout the country as well, which she found quite shocking.
Many people returned their animals after they started going back to work and school and didn’t have to time to look after them any more.
Dominik Manlanek, who lives in Ballina, believes animal abuse is unethical and feels obligated to do his personal best to help animals. He was shocked to find out more animals are in shelters yearly than he expected.
To reduce animal cruelty, he believes people need to known the costs of owning a specific pet so after a while it doesn’t become neglected, as well as spreading awareness throughout Ireland.
“During the project our whole class was fully engaged and I believe we all did a great job as part of a local group.”