One of the hardest parts about Martina McPeace’s job as a vet is putting animals down.
What is even harder for Dr McPeace, is seeing animals that still have a quality of life ahead of them put down “for business reasons”.
Working as a rural veterinarian at Longford, many of her clients are farmers and their working dogs.
Unfortunately, she said, many farms – not all, she stressed – see their working dogs as parts of their business, not as animals or pets.
“Some farmers that don’t have money to pay for treatment or surgery, for when their dog breaks a leg, for example,” Dr McPeace said.
“They say, ‘For this amount of money, I can just buy a new dog’ [and put this dog down].
“I have heard them say ‘The bullet costs me 80 cents’ and they put them down themselves. It is heartbreaking for me.”
Dr McPeace has begun the Working Dogs Retirement Foundation, in the hopes of seeing more dogs continue to live, and be loved.
The foundation aims to connect dogs who have reached the end of their working life, but still have a lot of life and love to give.
Operated through the Longford Vet Practice, the foundation will build a database of people willing to adopt an ex-working dog.
“I have heard [farmers] say ‘The bullet costs me 80 cents’ and they put them down themselves.”
The practice will also assist with initial medication treatments and costs, and supply the first month of food.
Since registering the foundation in July 2016, she has already had a handful of successful rehomes. But she wants more.
“I need people to register to take a dog, if one comes in,” Dr McPeace said.
“But I also encourage farmers to come forward and say ‘I don’t want him anymore’.
“I won’t judge them. We just want to give the dog a very, very, good retirement.”
The end goal for Dr McPeace’s not-for-profit organisation to raise enough money to buy an old farm, where she’ll establish yards and find a few sheep.
There, the dogs will continue to be able to do what they know and enjoy – rounding up sheep – without the physical stress that a “full-time job” would place on their bodies.
Registrations for the Working Dogs Retirement Foundation can be made by contacting the Longford Vet Practice.
Donations are also welcome.