A protest was held by animal rights activists on the steps of Dublin City Council last Friday, 28th August against Ashton Dog Pound. The group protested the poor treatment of dogs at the pound and their improper euthanasia practices, which are currently being investigated by the Gardai. They also demanded the pound be shut down.
Dublin City Council, South Dublin County Council, and Fingal County Council are the three local authorities which place rescue dogs into Ashton Dog Pound even to this day, despite continuous allegations and the ongoing investigation.
Ashton has been the centre of controversy for several years now for their poor conditions, despite receiving millions of euro in public funding.
Multiple petitions have been started to close the pound. One such petition on change.org has gained over 20,000 supporters to date. The petition claims that the dogs are “kept in cold dirty concrete cells, no bedding, and they put down healthy dogs that they claim are aggressive.”
The move to shut the pound started when Gardai were informed of issues surrounding the incorrect use of Dolethal, a substance used in the euthanasia of small animals such as cats and dogs.
The substance is highly controlled and can only be used by trained veterinarians by injection. It is extremely effective and humane when administered correctly, but Gardai discovered that Ashton staff have been giving the drug to the dogs orally by mixing it into their food. In this way, the dogs allegedly suffered for 2-3 days as the Dolethal shut down their central nervous systems, essentially suffocating them over this time.
In an exclusive interview with Gript, a vet-on-call for Ashton, Sydney Nagle said that he first found out about this technique while working overseas with animals who were extremely aggressive or had rabies. However, it is alleged that Ashton used this method in non-aggressive older dogs also.
Nagle told Gript that it is incredibly difficult to weigh an aggressive dog to get a correct dosage, but that the substance was correctly administered by Ashton staff “about 90% of the time.” After that, a vet would enter the pound and administer Dolethal again, this time injecting it, which would finally euthanise the animal. He claimed that it was necessary to sedate the dogs first for the vets to be able to carry out the work safely.
Several whistleblowers claim that there have been multiple instances where the vet would fail to arrive after the initial oral administration, leaving the dogs to struggle and die slowly and painfully.
With Ashton Dog Pound receiving so much money in funding, it is unclear why the conditions of the pound are so inadequate.
The issue may stem from 2013 when South Dublin County Council chose to send stray dogs to Ashton instead of Dunboyne Pound. Dog rescue charity “A Dog’s Life” opposed this at the time, saying that they weren’t sure how Ashton would cope with up to 1,200 extra dogs annually.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture is working with the Gardai on the ongoing investigation regarding animal welfare standards at Ashton Dog Pound. Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council contracts with the pound will expire in Summer 2021, and the South Dublin County Council contract ends on December 31st this year.
Several councillors in the area are planning to hold meetings to discuss the future of the pound in the coming weeks.