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West Cork generosity comes to rescue of Anita and her ‘family’

May 29th, 2020 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Photo by Jenny Rowden: Anita Douglas has devoted much of her life to caring for abandoned animals. ‘It’s crippling not having the shop open because it was our main source of income,’ she said.

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When a Skibbereen animal charity shop was closed due to Covid-19, one woman took out a loan to meet the shortfall needed to feed 58 dogs, 27 cats, 19 horses and ponies, three donkeys, one mule and three goats

A SKIBBEREEN store owner has become an unlikely animal welfare hero.

Anita Douglas who runs the Skibbereen Animal Rescue Centre said the situation in feeding and caring for her family of 111 animals has become ‘desperate’ since her charity shop at North Street was forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Anita told The Southern Star she is now using her pension to meet the food bills, but she has found something of an ally in Paul Connolly, the owner of the Spar shop in Cork Road.

‘To be honest,’ Paul said, ‘I haven’t really done that much. I have been able to give Anita the discounts she needs to meet her massive feed bills.

‘We are happy too for customers, who support the work that Anita is doing, to donate dog and cat food. It’s simply a matter of leaving all the products on a pallet for Anita to collect, keeping the Covid-19 restrictions in mind.

‘People are very generous,’ Paul added, ‘and we are happy to help in any way we can.’

When the charity shop closed, Anita said she was forced to take out a loan to meet the shortfall needed to feed 58 dogs, 27 cats, 19 horses and ponies, three donkeys, one mule and three goats, that are currently in the care of her charitable trust.

‘Money is scarce,’ she admitted. ‘I know most charities have closed their doors but a lot of them are able to fundraise online and they don’t have 111 mouths to feed every day.

‘It’s crippling not having the shop open because it was our main source of income,’ said Anita. ‘Without our shop, we haven’t been able to do anything like spaying and neutering the cats and dogs, which means they cannot be rehomed’

Anita pointed out that there are ponies and donkeys that need to be gelded within the next two weeks if they are to meet the prescribed timeline for such procedures.

The woman who has devoted much of her life to caring for abandoned animals said: ‘A lot of people have been good. They ring me on my mobile 086 8795950 to say they have donated dog and cat food, and I collect at Paul Connolly’s in Cork Road.

‘Some money has also come through PayPal; while others have contributed to our donation page on www.skibbereenanimalrescue.ie’. Anita said the charity is still paying rent on the shop, and it doesn’t have the income needed to cover its daily and weekly animal welfare costs.

‘Every penny of my old age pension is used to feed the animals, but we still have to find a way of meeting the high cost of looking after and feeding the horses.

‘Their hay and the rent for their grazing are the real problems. Right now, some of my pension will be used to pay €38.50 for 10 bales of hay that will only last two days.

‘When the shop was open we could take in about €110 a day and all of that, plus my pension, went on feed, rent and medicines. Since it closed, I have had no choice but to borrow money to meet the demands.’

Under such difficult circumstances, Anita said she is planning to reopen the shop on June 1st next and to operate it in strict compliance with the Covid-19 rules.

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