The 2-year-old lurcher was tightly chained to a metal fence post by her collar in a remote field. The dog had been abandoned along with six of her puppies, which were so young they had yet to open their eyes. They were left without food and water; the mother, despite being restrained by the chain pulling at her collar, was attempting to nurse her babies.
According to the Irish Times, the vulnerable, nursing mom and her puppies were discovered by a passerby in a field beside the small town of Elphin on Nov. 6, 2019. The person promptly called for help. The mother and her pups were taken to a nearly vet clinic working on behalf of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA).
Nobody knew how long the family of seven had been stranded there. According to the Daily Mail, rescuers speculated that the mother and her pups were abandoned soon after the mother gave birth.
Hugh O’Toole, manager of the ISPCA center, commented: “[L]eaving a young dog only two years old tied up without water, food, or shelter most definitely put her [life at risk] along with her young puppies.”
“With the recent level of rainfall and cold weather this week,” he added, “the outcome could have been very different and I’m happy we were alerted so we could help them.”
The seven dogs were taken to the ISPCA’s national animal center in County Longford for urgent veterinary assessment. Mercifully, neither mom nor her babies suffered any major health issues, except for having had to endure their period of hunger and the biting cold.
Taking on a family of seven was no mean feat for the ISPCA.
“Our centers are constantly full to capacity and with very limited resources,” O’Toole explained. “We sometimes have had to use private boarding kennels to help the number of animals waiting to come in […] It can also take time to find good, responsible homes for the many animals in our care.
“I don’t understand how anyone can think it is okay to leave a dog tied to a gate to nurse her puppies,” he continued, echoing the outrage of animal lovers everywhere.
When the ISPCA posted pictures of the sweet, stoic lurcher and her pups on Facebook, comments flooded in. “This has to be the saddest picture I have ever seen and that is saying a lot with so much cruelty around us,” one person wrote, “this is disgraceful, poor mama dog trying to protect her babies, it’s just shocking.”
“Until we have harsh laws and harsher penalties for animal abuse this type of horrific neglect will continue,” another Facebook user contributed, adding “enough is enough. Politicians need to step up and re-write the animal welfare laws just as other counties have done.”
The mother dog, who was named Emmy Lou by her rescuers, was not microchipped and could not be traced back to an owner despite the fact that microchipping is a legal requirement in the United Kingdom.
The puppies were named Billy Ray, Dixie, Dolly, Dotty, June, and Patsy, and all will remain with the ISPCA until January 2020, when they will be old enough to go up for adoption.
The ISPCA, much like other animal welfare initiatives around the world, continues to urge animal owners to spay and neuter their pets in order to help reduce the number of unwanted animals in the population.
For Emmy Lou and her babies, though, a good Samaritan out walking on a cold November day in the Irish countryside was their good fortune, and may continue to be so for years to come.