Out-of-town Charity Fundraisers Criticised

The proprietor of the local ‘Friends of Animals’ shelter at Cullionbeg, Mullingar, has hit out at a Tipperary-based animal rescue centre for collecting funds in Mullingar town.

“We are stretched to the limit here as it is, and fundraising is difficult enough in the current climate."

Mary Chundee said that efforts to find financial support for the local shelter are being frustrated, because the Paws Animal Rescue Centre - a national charity based in Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary - has acquired permits to collect monies in Mullingar and other areas of the country.

“We can’t stop them. What they’re doing is perfectly legal,” Ms. Chundee told the Westmeath Examiner last week. “We don’t have the manpower, the resources or the time to compete with this.

“We are stretched to the limit here as it is, and fundraising is difficult enough in the current climate. But we find that when we do go out to collect for animal welfare, people come up to us and say: ‘Oh, I saw Paws in town today’, and we miss out.

“They argue that we are entitled to go down to Tipperary and collect if we want, but we don’t have the resources to pay commission to collectors, and send them around the country.”

Ms. Chundee said that while Friends of Animals takes in animals from across the Midlands, funds raised are predominantly local.

“We are trying to get the message out to ensure that people support their local rescue centre,” she said.

But Gina Hetherington, the founder of the Paws centre at Mullinahone, defended their right to collect funds in Mullingar and other areas of the country.

She puts criticism of this practice down to “professional jealousy”.

“We have a permit to hold collections anywhere in Ireland,” Ms. Hetherington said. “It’s a summer campaign, and one day is spent in Mullingar, and one day in another town. There’s no law against us doing so.” Ms. Hetherington explained that Paws is a national charity which takes in animals from across the country."

The centre regularly accepts dogs from Westmeath, she added. For its collection, Paws sources volunteers - usually students - and pays them a commission to carry out the collections. The young people hired to do this work are, normally, local to the town where the collection takes place.

Ms. Hetherington said that Paws needs funding as much as local centres, saying that the centre was “on the verge of closing down” after the UK-based Dogs Trust set up in Dublin five years ago.

(source: Westmeath Examiner)