Friday, February 27, 2015

Energy 13% of global warming, eating animals 51%. Lets stop it!

Just watched the Cowspiracy movie again last night - A third of all fresh water is used for animal agriculture. 90,000 miles of deadzones in the oceans from 'run off' from animal agriculture (animals produce 3 times as much waste as all humans put together and of course none of that is treated). There is enough grain grown to feed 13 billion people already, when there are only 7 billion of us….but no! 6 billion get fed and one billion are starving, really starving. More than half the crops grown go to animals. Each of us can save 140 gallons of water a day by choosing not to buy or eat/drink any animal products. So global leaders, yes, Simon Coveney, yes, Phil Hogan, yes, all are responsible but so also are each and every one of us. Its really easy and good for health, finances, environment and obviously animals. Ireland alone is expanding with a notion to send meat and dairy to China and the US.

This is no less than a license to kill. Kill more animals, kill our surrounding ocean and inner waterways, destroy our soil, further en debt farmers to banks, kill off a few million unsuspecting people abroad because the human body was never meant to drink calf growth fluid. As the film says, cow's milk has all the hormones, lipids, proteins et al in it to bring a 65lb calf to a 400lb cow as quickly as possible. This is why dairy causes lumps and weight and worse. I hope everyone will just let meat and dairy go and not fall for just repeating an old unconscious choice of food and a denial about what it really is. The only people who are really being served at the moment are the top animal agriculture guys and pharmaceutical. Consumers by the God-forsaken produce, the pharmaceutical companies provide the antibiotics and other veterinary medicines to keep these animals alive momentarily alive to fatten up and then provide again the medicines for people when they get the heart problems. Its habitual misinformation and we can all make our own choice. I am vegan over 10 years and I'm still going strong. Someone at our local radio station apologized for going dairy free because her baby was so blatantly allergic to it. This is the mistake. Animal agriculture owes humanity and planet Earth an apology, not the other way around!! - The film can be downloaded from this website straightforwardly!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Admission re the Brewery Site Development that must be in by tomorrow 20th February!!

This is an objection to the Kilkenny council plan Part 8 of the Brewery Site. I think it should be sent to but hopefully I will be able to check that and add the Pllnning Application ID too in the next couple of hours. 

Part 8 of the plans for the development of the Brewery Site is premature. It should not be considered for permission to develop one part of the site before there is agreement on what will be done with the rest of it. It is also not strictly a ‘retention’ of the ballroom being proposed. From the plans, it appears that most of the building will be knocked and only one perhaps part of a second wall retained and the double height. The idea of a mural of people dancing on the inside wall to be salvaged is a token gesture,  reminiscent of Belfast where everything has been gradually destroyed and only little token reminders of history  remain.

This site has to be archeologically investigated first. Addressing the development of the Brewery Site in fragments is a way to by-pass this need to address the underlying history and pay it respect. There has never been a proper archeological dig and there are most certainly many people buried there. This Part 8 as well is a way to pave over the section once more, without addressing the site as a whole.

The proposed building is big and out of place as it will be visible and to the forefront where it intersects with The Medieval Mile. 

The building has been proposed in such a layout as to block the entrance to the Brewery Site from Parliament Street. This is strategic as the more difficult the entrance there, the more argument there is to support the building of the CAS bridge and road to meet it. The former is still the subject of active high court proceedings and the latter has no planning application in even yet.

Please make sure to assess the Brewery Site as a whole and insist on the full archeological investigation and respect for what’s found, in its future development.

Please bear in mind that An Bord Pleanala have the main say about what happens here in Kilkenny. In the application for the CAS bridge, you yourselves stated that the Ring Road should be completed first before going ahead. Then at a certain point that stipulation was taken out. This time, the people of Kilkenny ask you to really stick to your guns about the handling of this site and not allow further destruction of the landmark medieval city, Kilkenny.

Yours sincerely, Frances Micklem

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Council Meeting discussion on the Dog Shelter

Dog shelter update! I am pleased to report back on the great news of Monday’s council meeting. The Mayor Andrew McGuinness put forward his proposal that a committee be set up to decide how the dog pound should be run. The proposal was unanimously accepted and seconded and even maybe thirded. Then Cllr Malcolm Noonan sought a definite inclusion of a ‘no kill’ policy. The council executive tried to skirt around it and said that this was included in a general way by the wording of the proposal being to ‘prioritize rehoming’.

Then Cllr Breda Gardner asked more questions that needed to be asked like ‘is this committee going to directly affect the choice of tenderer? Who are Four Seasons Promotions? How can they be accountable? Could the council executive be sure that there were no links to Jo Moran convicted of animal cruelty only in 2012? At this point, John Mulholland, County Manager stopped her with the sentence ‘I won’t hear criticism of my staff, that is anti-work’ …I only hope he had misheard her question rather than him saying that Jo Moran was still on their staff?! Still, the series of strong questions elicited the actual information we needed. Up until this point, it was still quite possible that the offer of the contract to the collection service had gone through and this committee was going to be a token monitoring sytem…but no! The county manager said and I am sure of it ‘I will not discuss the unsuccessful tenderers’ (He was describing Four Seasons now as ‘unsuccessful’ so they hadn’t got it) I felt like crying and wanted him to say it again or answer a question directly or do something to confirm our flickering hopes. And then he said it: 

‘No contract will be awarded until after the committee is assembled and have decided on how the pound will be run’  YEAH!  I knew then we could all breathe a sigh of relief!

They really gave a lot of time to the dog shelter situation. It was very significant and everyone on the council is excited about the newness of such a committee, the chance of using it to change legislation for the benefit of animals and the chance of transparency and compassion coming into the equation. There was a bit of talk about the IFA having two places on the committee which I thought was a bit excessive as farmers 1. Have a bone to pick with some stray dogs and also 2. Have an attitude of inevitability that animals will have to be put down at some point, be it business, food, protection, usefulness etc. 3. The current legislation and dog warden services already respond quickly and responsibly to dogs causing trouble on farms. 

I have said to Mayor Andrew McGuinness since that if the committee really wants the pound to be successful at rehoming, it needs to form mutually beneficial partnerships with existing rehoming networks and other shelters. There are people who are deeply motivated to help, look after and find good homes for animals. They are the ones that will make the vision for a better system actually work. It would be fair and constructive to financially support the other charities/shelters, with a budget for spaying, neutering, other veterinary care and kennel space. If this doesn't happen, the local authority will still be passing on stress and cost of unwanted dogs to other groups, unfunded. So anyway, he's putting a committee together and I personally hope to God that he gets both Cllr Breda Gardner and Cllr Malcolm Noonan on it. They are both independent and the committee needs Cllr Gardner for real transparency and fairness and need Cllr Noonan to make sure the legislation is changed and good practice put in place. The executive committee set a provisional figure of nine people for the committee but they said it didn't have to be limited to that. 

Most people will be interested in who will be representing animal welfare. The council executive said that the Dogs Trust would be asked to nominate two people. Although everyone is glad and grateful that Dogs Trust can take dogs once a month from the pound, that network has to be  expanded as we said. PAWS, as well as the Dogs Trust are also already 'authorized' to take dogs from the pound and have held, cared for, neutered and rehomed many, at their own expense. This has revealed another crucial layer that needed to be observed before a more successful policy could be developed. That is that the pound has been closed to many organizations, who could and want to help. Next, we must hope and pray that this committee really commit to pooling the resources of animal lovers who have come to the fore. They have a great chance to coordinate an amazing cooperative including elements of training, rehabilitation, pet retention, responsible pet ownership, spay/neuter release programmes as well as making an income from licensing and possibly other grants (I think that other public money is available to trainees of the council, that could be utilized in building more kennels as skills are honed! 

I found out afterwards that the councillors were all under strict instructions not to question the actual tender process on any level, in case it goes to court. For the moment, thankfully, there is no need to do that, Mayor Andrew McGuinness is rising to the occasion!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Poor auld dogs, poor auld horses! Here's a Sulky Road-Racing Ban manifesto for Monday!

If Four Seasons Promotions, trading as ACS (an animal carcass collection company) are deemed an inappropriate choice to manage the Carlow/Kilkenny Dog Shelter then the council should consider withdrawing the contract they already hold for the collection, impounding and disposal of horses.  To this end, please find to follow two alternative proposals that would deliver an animal welfare response to dealing with stray or abused horses at the same time as making a sulki road racing ban a reality welcomed by all communities, including the travellers.

Current horse contractors collect, hold and dispose of horses for €980 paid by the council.
Healing by Franc would collect, hold, recover condition of, microchip, passport, geld if necessary and break-in for €980
The local authority would make an income on the sale of the animals to home-checked new owners. This would range from €50 for a companion animal – a horse to keep another animal company but not itself sound enough to be ridden  - right through to €2,000 for a safe riding horse, with scope for further training.

The figure of €980 can be broken down and monitored with complete transparency.
€15 per hour driving
Diesel charged on the basis of €25 miles per gallon (Half the cost of diesel goes towards the use of the box)
€120 For vet             – microchip €75
                                  -     registry of passport €45
€600 Keep and training/care 

Arrangement with vet to take horses to the practice, so passporting and initial condition check would be done en route to foster home/pound.

99% of stray horses are travellers horses. The establishment of a ban on sulky racing, would make it possible to confiscate horses and allow their re-sale, rather than return to notified irresponsible owners or put down. This is the current practice. The collection service currently put down the horse, rather than impound them. The good sulky racing horses are kept and will only be returned for  €2,000. There is some evidence that some are sold on for research.

One success story;
A pony was surrendered. He was cared for and treated for his neglected condition and worked on head collar training. Week 3, he was gelded and given time to recover. Then trained to saddle, microchipped, passported and sold for €900 to a riding stables. He was suitable for lead rein classes to establish manners and routine. Then his potential was spotted by a young rider there and she bought him to bring him on for show jumping. He now has a forever home and is a top class pony.

One opposite outcome;
A mare found on a jelly bog tied to another horse, who was already dead. She had already grazed the circle she could reach to nothing and had succeeded only in dragging the other animal a metre or two. The farmer wanted them off his land and risking life and limb, she was led off and nursed back to health and again, trained and vetted and became a perfect riding horse. This was the moment, that the travellers came and stole her back.

This raises the main difficulty with offering a horse impounding service; security. Eventually the travellers will work out where their animals are being kept and come and recover them. Where dogs are often unwanted, horses are definitely wanted so there are risks of theft and also risks of false claims and calls and rehoming inappropriately. This would be addressed by having the communications network, including vetting those interested in rehoming, doing home checks and proof of residence checks, managed away from the pound. So this is one offer by the Healing by Franc team. To offer a complete service for the same price as the council is currently paying, taking care of all the legal, health, training and rehoming aspects. In addition there is the real chance of income for the local authority, where recovered animals would be sold and that the full price of the sale be returned to the council. This is a complete animal welfare service, equipped to do what needs to be done. If their injuries are too great,  this would be assessed at the outset by our system of each horse being brought to the vet before even being impounded. The service could all be done at the Urlingford Pound if that belongs to the council.

To stop sulky racing on the road, the council must provide a facility. Travellers have rights too and this is a central part of their culture. We are aware that Noel of the ISPCA had a vision for a state of the art horse shelter for Kilkenny but then there was the recession. The grander plan that we would like to propose, is not as expensive as that shelter because the security wouldn’t have to be so great. Furthermore, the travellers themselves would run it and pay for it themselves, under strict animal welfare supervision by us (or some other group, who were confident in working respectfully with this community and insisting on care standards and payment) The group has the relationship with local Travellers, through both adult education programmes and horse and pony training and sales.  We have it on good authority that if a track was provided, they would use it.

In America there is a great model we could use. It consists of a massive circular all-weather track and furthermore all the horses are stabled there. The travellers have plenty of money, some say more than most other people as they do not have bank accounts but are always accumulating wealth. They would pay for such a facility on a regular basis and payment could be scaled on the level of care they provide for their own horses, necessary microchipping and passports initially and then how much they intended to use the track, for training and race days.  This facility would not need to be close to town, there are plenty of out of the way land that might already belong to the council where such  a track could be provided. The sulky racing in England is also popular and we have been guided to connect with Peter Lee in North Wales as a link to the animal welfare and management guidelines that work best in designing the track and supervision of such facilities. If there was sufficient land and stables (and there is a team of micro-building experts who are working with us), most recovered horses could be brought and cared for there. If the culprits of the neglect did come forwards, they could be penalized/fined and educated on site. 

3rd story. Two children driving a sulky down the road hit the top of my colleagues car with a stick. She jumped out and shouted ‘Don’t you hit my car!” They proceeded to hit the pony really hard with the stick to make a get away. My colleague shouted again “And be nice to that pony!” They turned around and said “Yes of course we will” while dropping the stick and slowing right down. There is a lot of love for animals amongst people and even the travellers, its just embedded behaviors in a marginalized community that has not been worked with very often before. The problem is one of ignorance, attitude and habit. With a joint effort to provide travellers with their own track and care and education facility, for which they pay and keep up maintenance, there would be a change of culture. Being welfare-orientated, kind, punctual with payment and/or honest could be rewarded by reduced rates of livery, as could participation by old or young in classes on care, horse husbandry, breaking in (without the forcing of submission that is common in old techniques). The Healing by Franc team has all the necessary experience to enforce this new educational model while the diplomatic skills to involve the travelling community in the design and planning of the facility, so that all sides are invested in it.
The sulki racing track would be the first thing to offer with the incentive that the sulki road racing ban was coming in. Management of the urlingford pound, or another stable yard, could be made available to bring detained horses initially. However, the less high security, track facility with up to 100 stables would be self policing to a considerable extent, once it was built. All the horses would be there under supervision, with food, water, grazing and a safe ground surface for racing without young limb compaction, shin splints and staff always there to ensure that no race was too long and that animals are sound before and after. Effectively the council would be providing an innovative solution to educating travellers about basic care and responsible pet/sport horse/general pony ownership. This is long overdue. Secondly you would get the sulky racing off the roads – as the great Mayor Andrew Mcguinness himself said, it would be a first for Ireland. He is proposing, to the council, a ban on sulky road racing this coming Monday. Thirdly, you would stop the impossible level of security needed as travellers would pay and have access to the site. Going back to the story of the half starved mare attached to the dead mare in the field. If this horse was brought into such a facility, the owner would have to either own up and share the cost of recovery OR deny all knowledge and allow the staff to attend to her and sell her to a good home, to make back the cost of care and keep.

By way of clarification, many horse welfare groups do not believe in selling a horse or it being given a job, where it is rehomed. We believe that selling a good horse to a good owner, stops the further deflation of the horse market. This deflation is one of the main reasons there are so many unwanted horses at the moment. Also letting people really own a horse retains the idea of investment. This lack of investment in a loaned pony, for example, can lead to further neglect. The travellers have the money for hay, feed, water, training, competitions and grazing. What they do not yet have is a culture of animal care or a set-up to provide these basics. A horse/pony needs a job, whether it is as a companion pony or with greater plans in mind. These dreams of dressage or jumping or even sulki racing motivate children and adults to a higher level of care and interest in their horse or pony. The key is for the horse impounding contractors, wherever they are finally or even temporarily based, to cultivate this interest and relationship between horse and rider/yard management and liveries/local authority and facility to promote a common goal of safe roads, mutual respect and animal welfare.

If we do not provide a sulk racing track, it will be very difficult to police who is racing and who is training or just exercising and what to do with the culprits once caught. If the horse’s only option is being picked up by the ACS, their life has not been improved one iota. We are, right away, willing to discuss and facilitate a plan that will make the road racing ban a reality and put Kilkenny county on the map for the discerning spending of public money on Animal Welfare, respect for all communities and social conscience and care education rather than security and disposal. 

Don’t let the cost hold you back. There may be tracks around – like the Ambulance track that runs by Gowran race track or even the dog track in Kilkenny if it is big enough. The council may already own 20 acres of land somewhere or less or more, that would be perfect and it wouldn’t need to be right next to any village or cause any fear. The opportunity is to bring everyone and their ponies in, offer a great facility and teach them how to mind their own animals and pay for the privilege of it, like the rest of us do. This way, we address the problems head on, rather than waiting for the death of more horses, more accidents plus the exposure of more and more cruelty, collection and disposal, as a response. If you’d rather someone else ran this, that’s fine with us too. Our main aim as always is to think through as many sides of the issue as possible and offer a higher principle of operation. We are willing to help, care for, retrain, teach, deal with the community in question and deal with difficult care decisions, recovery of payments and people whenever needed.

All the very best with the proposal ban on Monday and most urgently making sure that Four Seasons Promotions, trading as ACS do not get the Carlow/Kilkenny Dog Shelter. Give it to ASH Animal Shelter. They are responsible, they have reached the key performance indicators time and time again. 20 years running a successful shelter, more than 250 dogs rehomed last year alone. 10,000 people willing to help, that has got to be a success. No more tendering and decisions being made behind closed doors, please sort this out Monday and get a definite agreement from the Council Executive. Lots of love and gratitude, Frances Micklem

Healing by Franc  

Urgent Dog Shelter Management Letters Today! Thanks a lot, from all lost, stray and neglected dogs!

Dog Shelter Update: Hiya! Pressure's back on again. Today is the last working day we have to play with - Friday 13th - in terms of writing to the elected councillors to have their meeting on the tender, on Monday.Don't forget to include in your letters that there is no way the Animal Collection Service could fulfill an animal welfare requirement, even with the original ISPCA staff. Say that it already isn't working, with so many killed in the pound (1,392 in the last 5 and three quarter years) and this situation set to get worse if their governing body has gone. The ISPCA pulled out I heard from the staff of the pound because their hands were tied by the legislation and there wasn't enough room for animal welfare!
The Mayor, Andrew McGuinness wants to deal with Sulky Racing at the same council meeting on Monday and get that banned. If you think that's cruel or dangerous as well then add that, so that he gets the ammunition for his arguments against and be successful in his proposal for a better system. I wrote to Carlow's councillors too as that keeps the transparency going between the two councils involved in the contract, so I think all their emails are on protecting Protecting Pound Dogs Kilkenny/Carlow page too, if you can send letters to them as well.... So, that's my edit of our just one peaceful evening's post on wednesday "What a great result, pressure's off, today's deadline is off, the contract with the animal collection service, has not gone ahead. There is a new policy on the table at next week's council meeting, focusing on re-homing and animal welfare…and so, for a relieved and peaceful moment, all is good in the world of man and man's best friend!!"
The Mayor's proposal stipulates regular monitoring, transparency and a animal welfare management. I am suggesting that the ASH tender be accepted and offering that I do the monthly report back on Key Success Indicators: Monies raised by licensing, dogs re-homed, care offered and support received from other shelters, whether in communications, education, care or rehoming. That way it wouldn't have to go out to tender again and no one has to add to their busy work load!
We can get Four Seasons Promotions, trading as ACS finally stopped in their contracts with vulnerable animals but please write today, so everyone at the council is clear on the issues! Another good point to raise would be that if the ACS are deemed not appropriate for Dog care, then the horse impounding contracts should be withdrawn from them as well. Lets get good, existing animal welfare organizations in place to address animals needs, education and good legislation in place to make it work! Monday is the day when it is out on the table at the Kilkenny Council meeting so please have your say. Thank God we have Councillors Breda GardnerMalcolm NoonanAndrew McGuinness, Patrick McKee, Fintan Phelan, Councillor Peter 'Chap' Cleere, David Fitzgerald and Fidelis Doherty on the animal welfare side. All these and more sent letters of response to concerned people on the campaign and will be glad of this opportunity to influence how the shelters are run from now on.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dear Council Meeting, Please Protect the Pound Dogs

Dear John,
I am so grateful that you are having a policy meeting this morning. The main policy problems with regard to the Dog Shelter Tender are that the Animal Welfare Act comes under the Department of Agriculture and the Dog Control Act comes from the Department of Environment. These need to be merged, as dogs have ended up without a basic right to life.

I am writing with the specific request for you to withdraw the tender, rewrite it and open it again. The council are not legally bound until midnight on the 11th, so there is an opportunity to change this decision.

In your own budget last year, it stated
"Under the Control of Dogs Act, Kilkenny County Council has a statutory obligation to provide a dog warden and a dog shelter, and this service can only be provided by a local authority, the ISPCA or another recognised animal welfare organisation." Four Seasons Promotions are not a recognized animal welfare organization. They are a series of companies, including pharmaceutical research, investigative research, technology, secure transport and garda background. There are strong links to Joseph Moran, who only in 2012 was given a 16 month sentence for horrific animal cruelty, hidden behind 8 local authority contracts. There is also a link to John Craddock, contractor of the CAS scheme. Do not let anyone point you to the horse pounds as a legitimate animal concern. Only last year Four Seasons took 3 pregnant mares from leased land and put them down. Foals live for 6 hours in the womb and this is so far removed from animal welfare, it beggars belief. Healing by Franc has been in touch about horse welfare as well and offered to manage a shelter for them as well, with a rehabilitation and rehoming. The benefits of having an animal welfare concern as pound keepers are many:
Rescue Partnerhips, volunteers, foster care, trap, neuter, release, pet retention, comprehensive adoption programme, public relations/community involvement, medical and behavior prevention and rehabilitation, high volume, low cost spay and neuter – by having a veterinary person on staff. Hardworking, compassionate shelter director.

In the tender allocation, a key performance indicator should be: A commitment and proven record at rehoming. There was huge ambiguity and weighting where, on the tender it says a tenderer must have two similar contracts. This was assumed by ASH animal shelter and Healing by Franc to mean a background in animal welfare and care. This sort of accountability would be crucial. In fact, applications were judged on two similar financial contracts. I have seen the print out of all the public money that goes to shelters – amounts from one to twenty thousand. They could not possibly have two similar financial contracts. Secondly, this is another reason, why where there is public money, it should be invested in an organization that is invested in animals. The Enforcement of Law, licensing and the education of Responsible Pet Ownership, would all be included in a proactive way. For example, the Carlow Dog Warden covered 90,000 kms last year and Kilkenny Dog Warden covered 60,000 kms. Instead of this random, extensive driving around, they could quietly and methodically go from door to door checking dog licenses, offering advice. Thereby generating an income and promoting a relationship with the community.

If you give the contract to the animal collection service, they will profit once from the contract, again from the disposal of animals and possibly a third time, through selling animals for research. The original staff from the shelter are extremely concerned too. They have said that the ISPCA are pulling out of the pounds as the welfare of animals is impossible to apply. If the legislation was changed around the 5-day rule where animals ‘should be surrendered for research’ or can be euthanized and the confidentiality policies that mean that animals are not publicly advertised, making rehoming extremely difficult and the dog control act was merged with the animal welfare act to create a change in society towards responsible pet ownership, it would put Kilkenny on the map in a good way. At very least, you can see how these three policies above are extremely open to abuse by a business, who profits from an absence of welfare. The horses in Kilkenny are already collected by Four Seasons. They do not even keep them in a pound – they are put down immediately. They charge you €980 per horse to take them away. This is far too much money going in the wrong direction.

The concerns of the citizens have only seemed to invoke a defensive response from the council so far. The procurement section, not looking at concerns about the incoming tenderer. I believe the onus is on the council to ensure the concerns are unfounded, rather than write them off as ‘made-up’. We (the unsuccessful tenderers have been invited to put in an infringement notice and intention to ask for a high court judicial review.

Transparency International said that there is no Irish Procurement authority with power to investigate complaints and resolve disputes outside litigation, which is why we are approaching you directly.

 A public tender was advertised, asking for proposals of between 450 and 650 thousand euro to run the joint Carlow/Kilkenny dog shelter and dog warden services. Two animal welfare concerns, three horse pounds and one carcass disposal business submitted tenders. Kilkenny County Council is proposing to give the contract to the latter. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition in a week on hearing this, to insist that the shelter and Dog Warden Services go to an animal welfare concern. In Germany and Italy, no healthy dogs are put down. This is a problem at legislative level, with the Animal Welfare Act and with the Dog Control Act being interpreted as a license to kill and profit from it.

Carol McCarthy said in a public statement that they chose the collection service due to three incidents of sheep worrying. At no point did it address the inappropriate nature of giving a dog shelter to an animal collection service. In everyone’s mind it is just abhorrent.

Our request to you is to pressure the council to stop this contract before the money is paid on Wednesday 11th February at midnight and hundreds of dog’s fates are sealed. 1,392 were killed already, in that pound unnecessarily in the last 5 years. In one year there were 9 outbreaks of Parvo (which is a common dog illness).  Eight out of the nine times, they killed all the dogs in there to fumigate and start again. That was sick and healthy dogs and completely unnecessary with proper care and cleanliness. In Leitrim they run a council pound, for half the cost and all dogs are treated, rehabilitated, spayed and rehomed. Wide spread support and community involvement is available for that to work here too.

Talking of the vast cost of these services, the information that was on the public tender was not realistic to the budget that Kilkenny Council actually have. It has come to light since that there is €148,000 available from Kilkenny and €100,000 from Carlow. Either way, nowhere near the 450-650,000 proposals the council asked for on the public tender website. Everything points to the Four Seasons animal collection service having information that other bidders did not have.

Carol McCarthy, herself, knows that it is a blatantly heinous choice. This is widely known as her first letter to the other tenderers, Healing by Franc and ASH Animal Shelter for definite, named the ‘Animal Care Society Cork ‘as the successful tenderer. We wrote at once to congratulate them and offer the names of all the local people who had offered to work and volunteer. Others who had offered to take photos weekly to make sure that lost dogs were easily returned and others rehomed, by getting a regular slot in the newspaper for pictures and information. They responded WE NEVER EVEN PUT IN A TENDER and said they were horrified to think that the other acs, the animal collection service, might have misrepresented themselves in order to win another public tender. They didn’t need to, it turned out as the council had done it for them.

Some of the council really want Four Seasons to have that contract and nobody outside knows exactly why. We all know that it is not fair and square, however, it violates every animal welfare law there is and it will lead to untold suffering again until it all comes out in the open. In fact, it is already coming out into the open and all the council are responding is ‘you can take us to court if you want’. That is a weak defence. If somebody comes forward to our request for a sponsor, we would take the decision to court, even if they only considered the handling of the tender. My father was a High Court Judge himself and my background is also in legal advocacy. I really hope that you can find a way to address it before the expense of court and / or the Four Seasons are further exposed and convicted of more animal cruelty.

The grounds of my infringement notice would be:
1.     Failure to advertise a relevant contract
2.     Wrongly determining that a candidate does not meet a prequalification criteria
3.     Giving one bidder information that was not given to other bidders
4.     Bids in favour of one party and against another
5.     Incorrect application of the award criteria
6.     Changing the award criteria or their relative weightings after receipt of bids

We know that you would not act in favour of an individual group, so I hasten to add this is not an individual case. This challenge is an argument on behalf of all the animals in Ireland and all the people who care about animals. This includes a very alive and well network of rehoming and adoption programmes, care and rehabilitation. I draw your attention first to the responsibilities of the council which are not being interpreted fairly and then outline some of the further areas of law that are far too open to abuse from a business with no animal welfare connection.

The Pounds (provision and maintenance) Act, 1935, Section 5
The Appointment of Pound Keepers
‘Every local authority in whose functional area any pound is situated shall as often as occasion requires appoint a fit and proper person to be keeper there-of.’

These following points highlight the rights and risks of neither ‘fit nor proper’ authorized officers (Dog wardens in this instance) and the savings and even profits to be made by local authorities too (Kilkenny County Council in this instance) from the disposal of animals. The final one describes the Federal 5 Day Rule which is untenable and needs to be changed. Even if the original SPCA staff are kept to do the day to running of the shelter, that is not better. As I mentioned, there have been 1,392 dogs killed in this one pound in the last 5 and three quarter years. The SPCA are giving up all the pounds in Ireland and this is a critical moment in history where a better system can be put in place but it has to be acted on now, while the public tender is still open and the media spotlight is on what happens now.
(2) Where an animal, animal product, animal feed, means of transport or other thing is seized and detained under subsection (1), an authorised officer may—
(a) sell, destroy or dispose of the animal, animal product, animal feed or other thing or cause it to be sold, destroyed or disposed of, or
(b) take such other measures in relation to the animal, animal product, animal feed, means of transport or other thing as the authorised officer considers appropriate, in the circumstances.

(3) The profits, if any, arising out of the sale, destruction or disposal of an animal, animal product, animal feed, means of transport or other thing seized and detained under subsection (1) shall be paid to the owner of the animal, animal product, animal feed or other thing less any expenses (including ancillary expenses) incurred in connection with the seizure, detention, sale, destruction or disposal.
(4) The costs (including ancillary costs) of a measure taken under this section may be recovered by the Minister, the local authority concerned or the person who appointed the authorised officer—
5-day Federal Rule Idea:
Pounds: Since animal pounds are government-controlled facilities (regular or privately-contracted), they typically utilize the 5-day Federal hold rule, where an animal does not have to be held more than 5 days. The 5 day hold is mandated in order to allow owners time to find their pets. Although some now hold them longer than 5 days, this may depend on how many animals are impounded at the time, the breed or type of animal, etc. Also, the 5-day rule does not apply to animals surrendered by their owners, nor does it apply to animals which have already been held for at least 5 days by a member of the general public or another facility. Once the 5 days are up, the facility has a right to keep the animal indefinitely, sell the animal to a new owner, surrender it for research (all pounds are required to, but some do, some do not), or euthanize.”
Four Seasons Promotions have companies involved in research too and secure transport. Many concerned people have been trying to expose what they’re doing for years and have come forward, in the hope that you will do something to stop from their profiting from the continued suffering of animals.
These are some of the recognized risks taken by Kilkenny local authority during this tender and they have taken no steps to mitigate them.
Operational Risks      Confidentiality
                                    Interruption to supply chain
                                    Key personnel
                                    Adequate maintenance
Commercial                Escalation of costs
                                    Ministerial Financial protection (Insurance, indemnity)

Procedural                 Competition Delays
                                    Gaps in Knowledge
                                    Lack of clarity or information in specifications
                                    Incorrect qualification or award criteria
                                    Legal challenge to competition
                                    Termination date of contract with existing provider
The corruption is extensive, reaching country-wide already. Hundreds of people already carry the burden of their local pounds as although it is the most subsidized they make the least effort at animal welfare, re-homing, social change or developing personal responsibility for animals.

You might think, we are ill advised to share all this information before we go to court. Our belief, however, is in total transparency and integrity. The onus remains on the council to be sure that none of the concerns about Four Seasons are founded before going ahead. They are saying they are legally bound, but the council is not legally bound until midnight 11th February.

Follow the Leitrim model, run by an animal welfare concern, with a veterinary nurse as manager. ASH Animal shelter is the obvious choice to run the Kilkenny/Carlow pound and services and the council could change their minds with dignity and give it to them. They have said that they would offer the service within the budget the council actually has and will work with the existing staff.  Our role, with the Healing by Franc tender was to put forward a new conscious model of animal welfare and ethical management of public money to this end. We are also based within 5km of the shelter. As the process goes on, our role seems to have been to expose this deception and possible tragedy, one element at a time. Now that the puppies have been found in Dublin, it allows the media to report on this nation-wide story. The whole Protecting Pound Dogs campaign, all who signed the petitions and soon the whole country will be waiting with baited breath to hear if you can stop it.  You will be so dearly loved and revered and voted for at every opportunity, if you do act and/or can bring it to the legislative committee and others who can put the shelter and dog warden services in safe hands.    

Best regards, Frances Micklem