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 Inside Out - South of England: Monday October 4, 2004

SAVING THE IRISH STRAYS

Remi, Chris and a puppy
This pup is one in a litter of six to go to the UK

You might think that the south of England has got enough of stray dogs as it is. That's nothing compared to the problem in southern Ireland. Join Inside Out's 24-hour stray dog rescue mission from Ireland to England.

In Ireland a dog's destroyed every five minutes every day, except Sunday.

In a country with a human population of just over three million compared with 60 million in the UK, there are just not enough dog-owners for all the dogs.

Remi runs a dog sanctuary in County Wicklow, and he rescues stray dogs and finds them new, loving homes in the south of England.

"This is James, a greyhound found in Dublin. He had bad tear-wounds and septicaemia.

"We nurtured him back to health and he's going to a greyhound rescue in Swindon and then he'll be re-homed from there."

Financing the rescue

James the Greyhound
James the Greyhound will be re-housed in south England

Remi is one of many people trying to rescue Ireland's unwanted dogs.

He collects them from, what he calls destruction camps and nurses them back to health.

People pay Remi £60 out of their own pockets for every dog he takes across the Irish Sea.

Remi has re-mortgaged his house to be able to finance this weekly trip.

A huge percentage of Ireland's unwanted dogs are destroyed, 87 per cent. In the UK that number is only 14 per cent.

Every week, he drives round southern Ireland collecting dogs destined for better lives in the UK.

In one service station, Remi meets up with a woman who had an unexpected litter of six pups.

"I didn't even know she was pregnant - I came home from a weeks' holiday and there they were.

"I'm going to have her neutered now."

The six puppies are put in the back of Remi's van, a van that's seen more of the Irish country-side than no other.

Hard to say good-bye

Remi and his load of 22 dogs cross the Irish Seas so often, the ferry staff all know him and help him look after the dogs during the night.

Dalmatian
Getting a chance to be re-homed in England can be the only way out for this dog

The first dog to be met by his new carer is James, the injured greyhound.

Having looked after him for such a long time, Remi finds it hard to say goodbye.

"That animal was so maltreated and look at him go. I got very attached to him, I nurtured him back to life.

"I'm sad to see him go."

There is still a van of 21 more dogs to deliver, and Marion is one of the last recipients on this trip. She has already taken 16 dogs and hopes to be able to help in the future.

Remi feels strongly about his rescue mission.

"I am trying to help as many lives I can."

He has helped 973 dogs since he started this animal rescue.

What would happen to these dogs had they not been rescued like this, one wonders.

"There's a very short answer - they would be dead by now."

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Crime Fighters : Animal Cruelty

On the rest of the web
RSPCA
Dogs Trust

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Tara Choules (Dog Training Ireland)
I have visited ASH rescue and met these wonderful people. They have saved literally hundreds of dogs and puppies. Helena hand rears orphan puppies and her day is spent cleaning and feeding. These people sacrafice EVERYTHING I have never met anyone like them and I am always humbled in their presence. Well done for doing this story. They deserve all the positive recognition they get.

Lisa Whelan - Dog Training Ireland
I know Remi and Helena personally they are the most incredible people I have ever met. Every facet of their lives is dedicated to the welfare of animals. It never ceases to amaze me how much they have sacrificed for this cause.

AoifeHerbert/ Animal Rescue, Dublin, Ireland
I do volunatary work with an animal rescue group here in Dublin, and know Remi and his wife personally. This couple and their family have dedicated their lives to try and improve the terrible situation re animal welfare in this country. The Irish Government and the 'powers that be' have done nothing to improve the awful situation in our dog pounds, and have done very little in the way of promoting responsible pet ownership, particularly when is comes to the spay/ neuter issue. A national policy requiring all pet dogs and cats to be spayed/ neutered is long overdue, and may sound drastic but the animal overpopulation problem here is so extreme, it will drastic action to combat it. I believe that mandatory spaying/ neutering, as is law in some areas of the United States is one of the main wasys forward, along with education of the public at large regarding responsible pet ownership.

Ian Kerr
I have been a dog handler for 15 years and it is the mosy rewarding job anyone could ever wish for, it does anoy me that anyone caught for the ill treatment of animals no matter what the animal is only recieve minimal punishment that they smirk at. It's about time the laws of this so called animal loving country were revised and no nonsense laws introduced.

Helena and Remi, Co.Wicklow, Ireland
Remi and I would like to say thank you to Chris and his crew who went to such trouble to get a feel for the extent of the heart breaking situation in Ireland regarding animal welfare or the lack of it. We would like to stress that there is indeed a whole network of Irish and non nationals who all do their bit to improve the fate of Irish animals. Many of us work hard and together, thank you all for your kind words and help. Together we will make a difference.

Albert Kleyn - Chairman, Animal Care Society
However bad the dog situation is, it pales into insignificance compared with the feral and homeless cat problem here in Ireland. Dublin alone is estimated to have 1,000 000 homeless/feral cats. Dogs at least have a 5 day grace period under the Control of Dogs Act. Cats have nothing and are simply treated like vermin, poisoning being one of the favourite methods used. I know what I am talking about, I have been rescuing both dogs and cats over the last 10 years and where possible finding homes for them in the UK. Helen's Cat and Kitten Rescue in Hampshire has taken 180+ kittens from us over the last 2 years. THANK GOD for UK people like her.

Barbra Cotelo
It`s heartbreaking to think that a dog is put down every 5 minutes in Ireland. Thank God for Remi! What a fantastic, unselfish person he is. This lovely man makes the weekly journey across The Irish Sea every week, to save these poor unwanted animals. Stephen Hickmott is right. The law needs to be changed..... NOW. God Bless you Remi.

Deb Morgan
The situation in Ireland is a disgrace. This is a matter that needs to be televised nationally not just regionally. For a small rescue this centre deserve more recognition than the likes of the RSPCA. We should be grateful for the likes of Remi and the others on the Irish Animals site who have a mammoth task on their hands. They deserve all the help we can give them.

Liz Fuller
I am pleased to say that I have a dog, a beautiful English pointer cross, who came over with his brother from an Irish pound. I know that there is a whole network of people involved in the rescue of such dogs and we should be grateful that they are able to offer such help to dogs from Ireland. I must say that there was NOTHING wrong with my dog at all. Lets hope this programme may encourage more people to re-home dogs in need rather than buying new and expensive puppies.

susan wilkin
what a wonderful cause well done for all your hard work

Stephen Hickmott
I think the law in Ireland needs to be changed very soon. Some people also need to be educated because at the moment they seem to have a very poor attitude to animal welfare. We would be happy to take in any unwanted dogs and give them a good home.

Christine Evans
After seeing Remi's constant mission rescuing all of those dogs makes you think what a wonderful, unselfish person he is. May God bless Remi with the strength to continue his good work.

Mrs P Kirk
Ash Animal Rescue was a moving report. The problem of animal rescue is well known in this country but I was unaware of the scale of the problem in Ireland. Remi is to be applauded for his dedication to the plight of these poor animals. I can't offer a lot of money but I will be sending a donation to help with his ongoing good work. Thanks for the report and for the programme - some interesting topics and some that need airing.

Sue Whitehouse
It is really nice to know that someone is so dedicated to saving animal lives - they give so much love and companionship. Well done Remi.

D Metcalfe
The requirements to adopt a rescue animal are extremely high, which is good to a point. However I have been unable to adopt a dog as I work! I have had rescue dogs before though not in the UK. With the amount of dogs needing homes, I feel there could be a little more flexibility by animal rescues. It is great to hear dogs are being given a chance of a new home, well done.

Amy
I think that this is an excellent program. I think Remi is a lovely person and he is very kind. Not many people would take the time and money which Remi is giving and I think he is very determined to make the program work. The dogs need homes and love from people and Remi is giving them that chance. I've always had dogs and I believe that they are wonderful creatures and I am glad someone is taking their time to give them a better life. He has saved so many of the dog's lives and I wish him all the best on his rescue mission. My family are thinking about getting one of the dogs from him, but we already have two. I hope his rescue mission goes to plan and I think what he is doing is remakable. Thank You Remi for rehoming them.

Tom Milner-Gulland
Delighted to see this get publicity - I have had my border Collie, rescued from Galway, for a month. She came through the Anomal Rescue Centre (ARC) in Sussex - another agency that does the same thing. I had beeen worried she'd be disturbed, but she is in fact quite the opposite, and is the very model of a well-behaved, loyal, always-wanting-to-please humans, totally trouble-free, friend. Has changed my life. She seems to have been hobbled on the farm she had lived on: in this practice, one front leg is tied up as a puppy so that it doesn't develop, and the animal is slower for the rest of its life and easier to catch. Working dogs suffer: more awareness required.

Charley Smith
My partner and I were set to tears when we saw the story of Remi and we wish him all the luck and love in everything that he does for these dogs!



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