Welcome to September’s issue of the My Lovely Horse Rescue Newsletter where we bring you a round-up of life with our ever growing animal family and help you also get to know our team of farmies and volunteers without whom MLHR would never have made it to 10 years.
This issue we’re bringing you highlights from MLHR’s 10 Year Birthday Celebrations and a special message from our founders as MLHR embarks on the next decade in Animal Rescue.
We will be introducing you to our three farm bases and our My Lovely Cat Rescue.
Be sure to check out our Arrivals and Departures Lounge where we meet and greet the new kids on the block and wish a long and happy life to animals leaving us for pastures new.
Each month we’ll also bring you an interesting and sometimes strange fact about animals and their behaviour.
Lots to get through … let’s dive right in!
Celebrating 10 Years of MLHR!
On Saturday August 7 MLHR celebrated 10 years with a small gathering of friends outside at our main rescue farm in Kildare. The weather was atrocious but we partied on regardless with a vegetarian barbecue and three birthday cakes, one for our founder Cathy whose birthday was also that week. We received so many kind birthday messages from our followers and from other Animal Welfare organisations in Ireland who have been so supportive of our work for many years. Our compere beyond compare was the wonderful Ms. Tina D Parton who kept us entertained throughout the rain with music, jokes and her own very special brand of Irish dancing.
For MLHR founders Martina Kenny, Deborah Kenny and Cathy Davey, it was an opportunity to look back over a decade in Animal Rescue and acknowledge how much their work has changed the lives of animals in Ireland. It was also a chance to pay tribute to all those who have supported MLHR from its first tentative steps and to thank the many kind-hearted people who have given their time, advice, expertise, land and donations.
Addressing the Volunteers, Martina said “Ten years is pretty amazing and to think we started with TWO horses! People don’t realise how big My Lovely Horse Rescue actually is. We have over 500 animals, we have an amazing team in Cork and we have now My Lovely Pig Rescue with over 60 pigs in its care. We just want to say thank you to all of our Volunteers, to our friends and families. To all the people who help us, who train the horses so they can find forever homes, to everybody who supports us, thank you to each and every one of you. And here’s to the next 10 years. Happy Birthday to My Lovely Horse Rescue.”
Meet the bases!
My Lovely Horse Rescue began in 2011 with no official base. Today we have two bases in Kildare and one in Cork. These are the places where the magic happens, where the animals arrive injured, neglected and frightened and where they finally find love, care and compassion. Here is a quick snapshot of what happens on each of our farms.
My Lovely Pig Rescue
My Lovely Pig Rescue was founded last year in response to the overwhelming need for a change in pig welfare in this country. We love pigs so much and it really breaks our hearts to think of how these intelligent and immensely social creatures are treated throughout the short lives allowed them before their deaths.
3.5 million pigs were slaughtered in Ireland last year, and that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is how most of them spend their short lives. Stuck in small concrete areas, tails docked when they’re babies, with no access to grass, mud, bedding, sunlight or socialisation. The intense inbreeding they experience causes many of them to become old before their time. Many of our rescues have back problems, arthritis and other health issues well before any pig should naturally get these ailments. Not only can they feel the physical pain of commercial farm life but also the emotional pain of a life of misery. They experience heartbreak when someone they love leaves, just like we do and can become depressed when they are repeatedly mistreated. At MLPR we see how they thrive in the outdoors with other pigs and positive human contact.
MLPR is run by founder Cathy Davey and located on her home farm. With the help of one of our volunteers Janice and a host of workaways they care for dumped and mistreated pigs and also have a small herd of sheep, chickens and cockerels, a few unhomable horses and some goats. We can’t save every pig in the country from the horrors of commercial farming but at MLPR we are always advocating for pig welfare. In the last year we hosted two groups of Department of Agriculture vets to show them how pigs should be treated and to show them just how badly commercial farming affects pigs.
To follow us on our journey and to help us care for these amazing animals, please follow our social media and donate
My Lovely Horse Rescue Kildare
It’s hard to express how much this little old farm means to us all.
It’s old but it’s magical, it needs constant fixing up but it’s full of love, it’s never big enough but it helps save more and more lives each year. We might change lots of things about it but one thing we will never change, the care and dedication that exists here for saving as many lives as we can.
When the girls moved in first in 2015, they were dragging water in buckets up from the river because the well wasn’t deep enough for all the farm needs, they had to make stables out of the old cow stalls and put fencing up everywhere. Huge work has gone into this farm and the result has been the creation of a true haven for abused and neglected animals. We’ve been here over 6 years now and we’re still fixing and building and saving lives. Our animals live the way nature intended, in social groups and little family units of their own choosing. They are free to roam once they are well and able and they enjoy their freedom.
The main farm is where all our rescue horses and donkeys come first. Under the direction of Martina and Debs, this is our busiest base with rescues coming in, animals heading out on foster and adoption, vet visits, trips to UCD for gelding or serious operations. The work never stops. Our ever expanding goat herd lives here with us and so do our 11 resident pigs and some of the farm dogs who were not suitable for rehoming but who have made their lives with us and we are happy to give them that chance.
We hope to have our forever farm someday where we can truly expand our operation, increase our equine rehabilitation and training programme and where we can combine rescue with education. Until then we will continue as we are and always strive to save as many as we can.
My Lovely Horse Rescue Cork
Setting up our southern branch was such an important expansion of MLHR operations and the only way we could truly help horses in need outside of the Leinster region. Begun in 2018 and run by Kelly, Jeannette and their small, dedicated crew, MLHR Cork have become a powerhouse for equine welfare in the South.
They concentrate exclusively on equines, rescuing from the horse pound, going to callouts at all hours of the day and night, working with Department of Agriculture vets and the Gardai to ensure the welfare and safety of the hundreds of equines who are abused, mistreated and left to die of hunger and disease. They are often up against such odds and dealing with people who are a danger to the horses and a danger to those who would try to save them.
One of their most famous rescues was Mikey who suffered such abuse and neglect. Mikey went on to become a mini celebrity with queues of adoring fans waiting to meet him outside Maxi Zoo. People were very touched by the story of this brave little fellow and how he overcame his injuries to make a full recovery.
Clíodhna was the first foal born on our Cork farm. Her lovely Mom Layla was found abandoned in woods in West Cork and gave birth only a couple of days after arriving at MLHR Cork. Clíodhna was the tiniest foal we’d ever seen. Even our vet couldn’t believe her size and said she possibly had some form of dwarfism. From the start she wasn’t well and then Mom’s milk started drying up. In the end we just couldn’t save her and little Clíodhna passed away. We found her curled up on the straw early one morning. It was so hard for everyone losing our first little baby and she is forever remembered with love. Her mom Layla has gone on to be adopted as a companion horse with our lovely adopter Amanda in Newmarket.
Since then another 8 foals have been born to MLHR Cork either at the farm or with our fosterers. All these babies were born to a much better life than the one their Moms left behind.
My Lovely Cat Rescue
We never planned to add cats to our list of rescues but the need out there especially during kitten season was just too great to not respond.
So in 2018 when our volunteer Ted found a little cat by the side of a busy road we took him in, called him Logan and our cat rescue began.
Logan went straight to the home of our farm manager Fiona who proceeded to become head of our cat operations. She and her husband Anthony are unbelievable people. They have taken in over 250 cats, ferals, semi ferals, mums and kittens, orphan kittens and it is because of their love, dedication and hard work that so many have been saved.
The first cattery was run from their bathroom, then it moved to insulated kennels in their garage and now finally they are in the process of getting a proper cattery installed with outdoor and indoor areas which we hope to show you all as soon as it’s finished. It’s not easy being on the MLHR farm and then going home to look after young and sick cats all night but Fiona is one of the kindest people we know and she makes it look so easy.
Cat rescue is very hard. It’s estimated that anywhere upto 300,000 kittens are born each year in Ireland and more than half will die before they are 4 months old. The welfare of our nation’s cats is a huge problem and one which cat rescues battle bravely with every single day. We are proud to be part of that effort and we will continue to help as best we can to save these precious little lives
See our Arrivals and Departures section below to get the story of our little kitten Agnes, our warrior princess who battled so bravely against everything life threw at her and won.
The action never stops at MLHR. This month we welcomed some new animals into our care and said goodbye to others who have found their forever homes.
Arrivals – Piglets
Thursday August 19th, two tiny piglets arrived at My Lovely Pig Rescue from a commercial pig farm where a sow had 18 piglets and just couldn’t feed them all. We named them Ben and Arthur.
They were so tiny they could fit in your hand and their little spines protruded from their backs, clear signs of the poor start in life. Once they were in our care we brought them straight to Blackwater Vets. The wonderful team there cut their umbilical cords, cleaned them up and examined them.
One of our amazing volunteers, Janice, stayed up around the clock to feed them. We did everything we could, they were fed, kept warm, given lots of attention but sometimes everything is not enough. On Friday Arthur, the smaller of the two, began to go downhill. The thing about baby animals is that their bodies are so fragile that once they begin to decline, it all happens so quickly and there is often very little to be done to help them. By that evening all of Arthur’s fight was gone and the kindest thing we could do was to put him to sleep.
We were all so heartbroken at his loss, but none more than Ben. Pigs are incredibly social creatures and we worried that the loss of his brother might hinder Ben’s chances. So the next morning Janice hit the road again to get two more of the piglets from the overwhelmed sow. Ben was joined by a sister and a brother, Tarah and Tommy. These piglets too were thin and in much need of some TLC. The three piglets cosied up in the living room of the MLPR base and were carefully cared for by the volunteers and workaways.
Despite being smaller then his siblings, Ben made sure to boss them about, clearly feeling superior that he had arrived first and stolen everyone’s hearts a whole two days before they arrived. But of course Tarah and Tommy didn’t take long to win us over with their tiny snouts and their habit of falling asleep halfway through getting bottle fed.
Follow their story on our My Lovely Pig Rescue social media pages and please donate towards their ongoing care ?
Departures – Agnes
In just a few days Agnes will be leaving the MLHR cattery where she has been so lovingly cared for by Fiona and Anthony. She will be heading down to Cork to her forever home to live with another MLHR rescue, little Eve. Agnes’ story shows that the resilience of the smallest of creatures is never to be underestimated, something we have seen time and time again.
On July 12th, at only 9/10 weeks old Agnes was found lifeless on the side of the road. Luckily a kind passerby scooped her up and brought her to us. She was in such a bad way. Her front leg was broken, she had a life threatening hernia and she had internal damage which the vet felt was most likely the result of a dog attack. How she was still even breathing is beyond us. Agnes went through two huge ops the following week, one of which was the amputation of her leg which could not be saved.
Then she went to our cattery and immediately fell in love with Fiona’s husband Anthony and he with her. She has thrived beyond all hope and now she is the most glorious little cat, ready to embark on her next big adventure. She has captured all our hearts and we are so proud of our little warrior princess.
A Special Goat Story
We just love goats at MLHR and our goat herd is constantly expanding as these goats often have nowhere else to go.
Over the Summer we welcomed the loving pair Nigella and Jamie Oliver and the three friends, Rua, Pippa and Zoe, named after 3 of our wonderful workaways. Both Nigella and Rua were pregnant when they arrived. Nigella gave birth first, on Sunday July 25th, to baby Tilo but sadly he died within hours. Everyone was heartbroken for Nigella as we listened to her calling out for him and sobbing loudly. We left his little body for a while in the stable with her and Jamie Oliver because animals, just like humans, have a huge need to grieve and it’s often very distressing for them if their dead baby is taken away too soon.
Then on the 27th Rua gave birth to twins, Lorenzo and Danny. She had trouble feeding them both due to a blockage on one side of her udder and a hole on the other which couldn’t be fixed while she was still nursing. The baby goats needed the goodness of a mother goat’s milk so we decided to give Lorenzo, the stronger of the twins to Nigella to nurse as she still had plenty of milk.
Danny stayed with his Mom. Both mothers were content with this situation and Nigella fell in love with Lorenzo like he was her very own baby. Then unbelievably tragedy struck again. Lorenzo got very sick and he died on the way to the vets in the arms of one of our farmies.
Everyone was in absolute shock and the greatest tragedy of course was that Nigella had now lost her baby all over again. Both she and Rua also caught a touch of pneumonia but luckily eventually recovered well from that but Nigella was hit really hard by the loss of her second baby. Jamie Oliver, her loving partner, stayed by her side through all of this, watching over and protecting her.
Going through all of this alongside our goats has just made us love them all the more and we want to protect them so much. We can’t thank all our farmies enough for the constant care and love that they gave all the Moms and babies throughout this ordeal.
The last surviving little goat Danny is still with his mom Rua and we are supplementing his feeds to make sure he grows strong and hardy. He charms everyone who meets him and is already very playful and funny.
Nigella has recovered from her grief but she often goes off on her own, away from Jamie Oliver and the rest of the goat herd. She’s taken to spending time out in the fields with one of our oldest horses, Grandpa John and his three girlfriends (a story for another day). They seem to like having her tag along in their gang and this new friendship we hope is helping her heal.
The Flehmen Response
It might look like Wesley is posing for the camera but he’s actually taking a sensory picture. By stretching out his neck, raising his head, curling back his upper lip and showing his teeth he can better inhale scents and pheromones (chemical messages) which help him learn about other animals in the herd, including you! Psst, you might want to go easy on the garlic bread!
It’s terrifying to witness an act of cruelty against a defenceless animal or to see an animal running loose in the street perilously close to oncoming traffic. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to know what to do, who to contact, and to know what information will be important to share. MLHR is on hand 24/7 all year round to be the voice for animals. Every day we receive reports from all over Ireland of animals (of all species) who are straying, who have been abandoned, or who have been the victims of intentional neglect and abuse.
Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, only Authorised Officers (An Garda Síochána; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Inspectors; and County Councils/Local Authority Inspectors) are permitted to seize animals, to enter private property, to carry out investigations or to bring prosecutions. MLHR assists Authorised Officers with their work and for this reason, it is vital that members of the public reporting incidents to MLHR also report to the relevant Authorised Officers so that we can liaise with and help them move animals out of harm’s way and into safety.
What you can do
1. Provide us with a description of the animal(s) at risk and the nature of the incident.
2. Send us a pin drop or accurate description of the location.
3. Take Photographs/Video footage but only if it is safe to do so
4. Tell us which Authorised Officer or Garda station you have contacted.
How to make contact with Authorised Officers
• An Garda Síochána – A list of Garda stations is available online at https://www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory/
• Local Authorities (for incidents on Public land) https://www.gov.ie/en/help/departments/#local-authorities
• ISPCA for emergencies call 1890 515515 (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Welfare concerns can http://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint
• Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – for incidents on private land phone 01 607 2379 or 0761 064 408 or email [email protected]