Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I live just outside Waterville on the Iveragh Peninsula together with my husband, 4 dogs and 2 cats. All but one are failed fosters. I work from home in the mornings, in the afternoons, I volunteer for KLAWS.
How do you volunteer with KLAWS?
My original volunteering was as Treasurer, fosterer and driver but over the years the role has expanded. I oversee a lot of the admin and have devised spreadsheets for most areas of the charity. There is a lot of work to be compliant with the Charities Regulator and the DAFM.
Why did you decide to become a volunteer with an animal rescue charity?
It crept up on me. Through friends who volunteered for KLAWS. “Could you foster this puppy?” “Would you consider being on the committee?” and it just snowballed.
What have you learnt from volunteering?
How much volunteers are needed in the community. Things that from the outside look like a small issue can be anything but and require a lot of work. If anyone can spare any time in any capacity, they should. The end results are also so rewarding.
Is there anything about volunteering that you didn’t expect?
The great friends you make in having a common goal.
We know that working with rescue animals can be challenging — it can be stressful and heartbreaking at times. How do you cope with difficulties?
You have to try to be pragmatic. When animals have been mistreated, you are offering them a way out to a better life. If they are beyond help and unfortunately pass away, they have known care and affection at the end. You also look at the number of cats and dogs helped every year and realise that you’re making a difference.
What have been the high and low points of your time as a volunteer? Maybe you have some standout stories to tell?
My recent low and high points have been with the same dog, Lyra.
I was driving her to the UK and stopped at Dublin Port for a pee and a drink. Unfortunately, just at the wrong moment a lorry braked. Lyra slipped her collar. We looked at each other and she ran. I thought that was her gone. My heart fell. I felt awful. I’d let the foster family who’d cared for her down, I’d let her new family down but most of all I’d let Lyra down. Then she came back. Not close, but she was hanging around. It was the small hours of the morning. A couple of lovely people tried to help me but to no avail. Dawn broke which was good and bad. More people to help but more traffic and lorries. Lyra was running between them. I don’t know who was more scared. I rang her foster family. Amazing people. They drove four hours to Dublin to try and save Lyra, being stopped by the guards on the way. The best moment, they arrived with their dog, called Lyra and she went straight to them. The relief was amazing. Twelve hours later than planned, we boarded the ferry. Lyra was happy immediately in her forever home. She even gave me a small nuzzle which seemed like a thank you. I’m now getting regular updates of Lyra, in the garden, in the fields and with perfect recall on a hike in the hills. That makes volunteering worthwhile.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?
Do it. Many hands make light work. Whoever you volunteer for will appreciate it and you will make a difference.