Animal sanctuary that's full to capacity braces itself for 'unwanted' Christmas pets
A CO Down animal sanctuary is full to capacity with abandoned pets - even before the expected surge of 'unwanted' Christmas pets arrive.
Two litters from stray dogs dumped by their owners before the festive season even began have added to the burgeoning over-capacity at Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Conlig.
Manager Heather Weatherup said yesterday that recent bad weather had also placed added pressures on the centre.
The sanctuary, which is currently home to 120 animals, took in two pregnant stray dogs dumped by their owners just before Christmas.
And Ms Weatherup said they had not even begun to "receive the phone calls" about unwanted animal Christmas gifts.
"We have had lots of pups before Christmas this year, two litters from pregnant stray dogs that were basically dumped out on the street," she said.
"The strays were picked up by the dog wardens and they were found to be pregnant. The owners had obviously found out they were pregnant and dumped them on the street.
"One of the litters, which was picked up in the Mid-Ulster area, had six pups while the other had three.
"We have been able to get homes for two of the six, but the others all still to be re-homed.
"This is all before we start receive the phone calls from people who no longer want the animals they have received for Christmas."
Ms Weatherup said recent bad weather had also led to problems for the centre.
"We have 120 animals at the minute - we work to capacity and that's the most we can take," she said.
"But the extreme weather has really hampered us this Christmas - it has left dog runs waterlogged, roofs are leaking and everything around the place is saturated.
"Our electricity bill will be sky high with all the extra washing and drying we have have had to do."
She appealed to anyone having difficulty with their new animals to seek advice.
"I would urge people not to give up," she said.
"If you are having trouble or doubts, get advice. Visit centres like ourselves, come in and we will give you the advice you need or point you in the right direction."
Assisi Animal Sanctuary can be contacted on 028 9181 2622 or at www.assisi-ni.org.