Please tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Denise and I work in a local supermarket in Kenmare. I love living in Ireland and especially in this county. We got lucky when we moved here in 2004 from the UK, as the surrounding area is spectacular. My big passion is animal welfare. We have three dogs (at one point we had nine!) and three cats, all rescues, and a goat called Billy, also a rescue. I keep a lot of hens who are all ex battery but now live a life of free ranging. We also keep ducks, and by selling the eggs in an honesty box at our gate, we pays for the birds feed and bedding. Luckily we live on three acres so we have the space for our pets.
How do you volunteer with KLAWS?
I have volunteered for KLAWS since 2006. First as a dog fosterer, but that has evolved and I now multitask. I am the Public Relations Officer; I have the designated KLAWS mobile and I volunteer in the Charity shop. I am also the holder and distributor of the cat traps for our Trap Neuter Release/Re-home policy. Plus there is also the home checking if I am needed, organising street collections twice a year and pre-Covid, regularly drove to meet the transporter in Abbeyfeale if our dogs were heading to the U.K. However, since 2018 I am also now actively involved in the creation of the KLAWS annual Charity calendar, from inception to publication.
Why did you become a volunteer?
My neighbour in the U.K. took on a rescue dog from the R.S.P.C.A. Tink had survived a terrible assault and yet she had no animosity towards the human race. I babysat her when my neighbour had to work long shifts as a police officer. Then redundancy loomed for me and I was looking for a new vocation. Sadly I was too old for the R.S.P.C.A but the thought of working with an animal rescue was always in the back of my mind. When the opportunity to volunteer for Kenmare Locality Animal Welfare Society arose after we had moved here, I did not hesitate.
What have you learned from volunteering? Has it changed you in any way?
I have learned from volunteering that you need to develop a steely nature, as sometimes our rescues have suffered needless cruelty. Also my mantra is that you cannot rescue every animal, but the ones that you do, are the ones that count. They are the ones that got away to a new life. You cannot think "if only I could have done more", as it does not make it easy if you dwell on what might have been. However, it gives me comfort that KLAWS has rescued great numbers over the years since its inception in 2006 and continues to do so in 2022.
Was there anything that you didn't expect about volunteering?
I never expected to find the Law so unsupportive of animal welfare when I joined KLAWS, but step by step it is improving. As a volunteer, I can say hand on heart it is never the animals fault, but always the owners. Whether they be farm animals or household pets they deserve a second chance, whereas the humans very often, do not. Prosecutions do take place, but they are rare and organisations such as the I.S.P.C.A. do not cover rural County Kerry. We have the K.S.P.C.A. but sadly, they have very little manpower.
What would you describe as a high point and a low point of your time volunteering?
One high point for me is the feedback or follow up stories about our rescues from the owners. They are more than happy to keep us up to date with their pets progress. I also feel that after a foster dog had left me, that the work we put in had been worth it, even though I used to feel so sad when they left us. The low points are usually the death of a rescue that could not overcome their health issues. That is heart-breaking and in my time I have only known a few cases, much to my relief.
Any standout fosters or foster stories?
Over the years I have fostered fifty dogs, all shapes, sizes and temperaments. Some were so scared of their own shadows and it would break your heart to see them so broken by fear. But by the time my husband and I put in the work with them, they left us as bold as brass.
However, my outstanding foster who eventually became my own dog, was Patch. He had been treated so badly that an unbroken front leg was never fixed. His limb was permanently bent. But it never stopped him chasing the cats or running with the other dogs. He was so scared in the beginning he chewed wire to escape from his pen. BUT he never left our
land. In 2011 when temperatures dropped below freezing, he had common sense and he invited himself into the house; he never left. He passed away 13 September 2021 age unknown but old, after a long and happy life.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Do not hesitate to volunteer, especially for KLAWS. Because we are small in numbers of volunteers, we need manpower. Even if it is volunteering in the shop, or holding a bucket during a street collection, we would be grateful for any help. But the area we are lacking in, is foster homes. We need places where our dogs and cats can go. While in foster care, the carer helps to rehabilitate them, especially if the animal has been badly treated. It takes time and dedication but by becoming a fosterer, it makes the re-homing process a lot easier. If the dog has come with issues, hopefully those issues are resolved by the time they leave for their Forever home. Please help us to help them.