‘Pawlitical’ guest discusses cost of living pressures during a visit to Dogs Trust Ballymena

Robbie Butler MLA was welcomed to Dogs Trust Ballymena recently where he was warmly greeted by the dogs and staff.

The Lagan Valley representative enjoyed a tour of the rehoming centre, which included phase one of the rebuild which is nearing completion.

Dogs Trust staff discussed various dog welfare issues, including the current cost of living crisis and how this is affecting both dog owners and the work at the centre. Mr Butler also saw the centre’s food bank, which is available to those struggling with the cost of feeding their dogs. In addition, the team spoke to him about responsible dog ownership and breeding, including banning third-party sales and the need for robust legislation to regulate rehoming organisations, all of which are necessary to tackle some of the welfare problems in Northern Ireland.

Following his visit, Mr Butler said: “Friday’s visit to Dogs Trust Ballymena was the highlight of my week. The staff and facilities are impressive and to know that there is such conscientious care given to the dogs who stay there, before re-homing, warmed my heart considerably.

Robbie Butler MLA during visit to Dogs Trust Ballymena

“The food bank is an excellent resource especially in the face of the cost of living crisis and I encourage anyone who wants to support Dogs Trust here in Ballymena to contact them at the centre to learn more. The most difficult part of the day was leaving my new friend Finn the Pomeranian, who made a massive impression on me, but I’ve no doubt that he will find a fabulous home soon.”

Conor O’Kane, Rehoming Centre Manager at Ballymena, added: “It was a pleasure to welcome Robbie to Dogs Trust Ballymena and to show him the progress with the redeveloped centre where we will be able to care for and rehome even more dogs. We appreciate his concerns for the cost of living pressures faced by the centre and dog owners and thank him for his continued support of dog welfare and our work.”

Dogs Trust, the UK’s biggest canine charity, received a record number of inquiries last year (more than 50,000) from dog owners about giving up their dogs. There is a danger that this year could be even worse - by 10 January, the charity had already received 1,956 handover requests, shockingly, almost a 50 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.

As the nation faces its worst financial crisis in decades, Dogs Trust is urgently seeking help for the dogs who will feel the impact. The charity is calling out, in particular, to people with space in their homes and hearts for dogs that are more difficult to find forever homes for, such as big dogs and dogs with challenging behaviour. If you think you can offer a dog in need a temporary home while the UK is in financial crisis, please contact them at https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming/fostering

Robbie Butler MLA with Finn at Dogs Trust Ballymena

More information about the dogs awaiting new homes can be found here https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming

To find out more about the food bank at Ballymena, please call 0303 003 0000.