Animal welfare groups 'still pinching' themselves over €500k bequest
on 09/01/2013 00:00:00
Of this, the former owner of Stackallen Stud in Meath bequeathed €500,000 to the Limerick branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
However, as no such body exists, the Commission for Charitable Donations and Bequests advised the solicitor dealing with the administration of her will to divide the money between Limerick Animal Welfare and the Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Marion Fitzgibbon, chairwoman of Limerick Animal Welfare, says the €250,000 donation they are set to receive will be a wonderful start to 2013.
"Whoever this wonderful lady was, we'll be praying for her. This is the biggest ever donation from an individual made to Limerick Animal Welfare. We have never received anything like that."
She said the welfare group was "still pinching ourselves" about the donation, which it learned of before Christmas.
Ms Fitzgibbon said a meeting would have to be called with the board of directors to decide on the best use of the funds.
The group's annual running costs amount to €550,000 and it hopes some of the windfall will help to complete a new development at its 25-acre animal sanctuary in Kilfinane.
Ms Fitzgibbon said: "It is deteriorating rapidly, and we're most anxious to start that again. We have about 200 animals at the sanctuary."
The Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it did not wish to comment, other than to say it was in talks "about monies bequested by a generous supporter of its work".
Elizabeth Burke, late of 70 Ailesbury Rd, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, died on Oct 20, 2011.
A spokesperson for the Commissioners for Charitable Donations said: "The difficulty is that there is no such charity as the RSPCA Limerick Branch. In such circumstances the commissioners have the power (pursuant to Section 21 of the Charities Act) to approve a course of action proposed by the executor if the will.
"In this instance the commissioners were advised that there are two animal welfare organisations active in the Limerick area and, as such, they directed that the appropriate course of action be that the funds be divided between the two charities to be applied for their charitable purposes - ie animal welfare in the Limerick area."
A spokesman for Liston & Co, of Morehampton Rd, Dublin, which is dealing with the administration of Ms Burke's will, refused to comment on the matter.
Ms Burke was a fan of the late Hollywood star Paul Newman and left €7m to the Barretstown Camp in Kildare, a charity Newman set up 19 years ago.
Ms Burke (née Keane) was originally from Elm Park, on the Ennis Rd in Limerick.
She is survived by her son Nigel; daughter Orla; daughter-in-law Bokja; and grandchildren Jack and Shane.
Pet crisis: Dogs abandoned after Christmas
It happens every year - but this is the worst yet. Come January, hundreds of Christmas pets - mostly dogs - are either abandoned or brought to animal welfare centres.
The Dublin-based Dogs Trust, Ireland's largest animal welfare charity, experienced a 50% increase in the number of surrender calls to their rehoming centre last Thursday. That day alone, 51 people phoned the centre in Finglas in an attempt to surrender dogs.
Catriona Birt, centre manager, said: "This is a record number of calls for one day; on average in January we would take between 25 and 30 calls a day. It is most definitely a year-round problem but we do always see a spike in the number of calls at this time of the year, however not to this extent."
Some of the dogs the trust took in over the Christmas period include a 15-week-old Jack russell-chihuahua cross found wandering on Christmas Eve and an 8-week-old Jack russell cross found abandoned on Dec 26.
"It's heartbreaking to see," said Ms Birt. "We had to turn away the most amazing dogs because we simply don't have the capacity for them as is the case with all animal welfare organisations. Currently having 163 dogs and puppies in our care and taking up to 230 surrender calls a week, Dogs Trust would need a centre 10 times the size to take them all in."
The trust's executive director, Mark Beazley, said: "Dogs Trust's door is open to anybody who would like to come in and have a chat about rehoming their dog or any other aspect of dog welfare. We would encourage people to seek information about the proper way to deal with such a situation."
Dogs Trust advises owners who are looking to surrender their dog to think seriously about the reason they are surrendering the dog.
A spokesman for the Cork Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it had not yet seen any increase in abandoned pets so far this year.
"It is generally from February to April that we see the Christmas presents animals coming in when they start growing and owners find them too much to handle," he said.
"No doubt we will be getting a lot in the near future although we have a full house at the moment."
- Dan Buckley