It’s never easy to change your life and sacrifice your own needs, even if it’s for a good cause.
Postwoman turned animal rescuer Marita Davis knows this all too well.
“When I was born and brought home, my dad put me down on a blanket and I was introduced to Kim, the German Sheppard. Kim helped me walk as a toddler and I would hold onto his back for support.
Marita has step-siblings but they are 20 years older than her making her feel like an only child at times and so dogs played a vital role in her young life.
“Dogs were a huge part of my childhood. As I grew up and family life had gotten rough they were consistent with their loyal and waggy tails.”
This love and dedication towards dogs has followed Marita into adult life and dogs have gotten her through the bad patches.
Marita’s father passed away when she was 22. She was stuck in a mortgage alone. She suffered with severe depression. Her dog at the time, Taz, was a constant source of love and friendship in the sea of sadness that was this period in 2010.
As a postwoman, Marita travels the same local routes from day to day, so she soon became exposed to the cruelty that lies everywhere.
Marita remembers a female Jack Russell Terrier from May 2016. The poor girl was heavily pregnant and Marita knew she was in trouble with the pregnancy. She asked the owners to take her to the vet to make sure all was ok. They didn’t listen. A few days later they asked Marita back and she found out that the terrier had died under an emergency C-section. The owners gave the puppies to Marita but they couldn’t be saved.
“I regret not intervening to this day”, she admits.
So many stories will haunt Marita forever: the Staffy cross that was left behind when a family moved and took two weeks to catch; the Greyhound that was abandoned with a leg wound and had to be put to sleep; the two Lurcher puppies that were surrendered to her care, so hungry and poorly, she wasn’t sure if they would survive. Luckily they did.
qMarita set out for help to rehome the two Lurcher puppies and met Eileen from Clare Greyhound Project leading to a loving home in Italy for the Lurchers. Outcomes like this are what drives Marita forward.
But it is hard not to get bogged down by the heart-wrenching statistics out there.
There are five dogs put to sleep every single day in Ireland as the 2015 statistics released on environ.ie last July shows.
“Education is key”, declares Marita. Puppy farming and backyard breeders are a huge problem in Ireland and she is sick of how little is being done here.
Buying dogs online is something else that she wishes would disappear. “It disgusts me,” she states, “educated people wanting the fashionable puppy yet so many needing homes. I can’t understand it.”
Marita played a part in developing Deel Animal Action Group but she has since gone on her own and instead offers a B&B service for as many dogs in need as she can.
Day-to-day running of her little doggy B&B is routine by now. She checks on her dogs each morning before work and she’s able to come home around lunchtime. This gives her time to clean their messes, walk the dogs, play with them and give some of them the much needed time and attention to build trust.
This journey has been difficult for Marita emotionally especially in the last few months.
Marita’s brother passed away last year. He lived in the UK and their visits had become less frequent due to her packed life of working and rescuing. She couldn’t afford to stay away for more than two nights for his funeral as the dogs needed her. They will always depend on her.
Even her journey home from the airport ended in a rescue.
This move has also taken a toll on her relationship with her partner, James. Finding time for one another is near impossible.“Evening times on the couch a distant memory at this stage.”
But James is there through it all for Marita. “My partner is a saint thank God but it restricts us in doing things and going places together. We can never go away overnight.”
The financial costs involved are another spanner in the works. Rescues are full to the brim here in Ireland and people like Marita are at full capacity too. To send a dog to the UK costs around €150 including rabies shots, passport, vaccines, microchipping and transport but doesn’t include worming, flea treatment or food.
“I wish at times that I didn’t have to do it”, admits Marita, “but then it’s so rewarding to see the dogs moving on to other rescues or homes. It makes it all worthwhile”, she confides.
Marita does as much as she can but would love to do more.
“…as for a rescue, it’s a dream of mine. Maybe at 55 when I have the house paid for. In the meantime all I can provide is B&B for those in need and be a steppingstone for them.”
In the animal rescue world you have to rely on the kindness of others and it can be hard to keep up to date on vet bills and keeping the animals fed.
You also meet wonderful people along the way. While on an “apprenticeship of sorts” Marita has learned so much from Marion of Limerick Animal Welfare (LAW) who has spent her life lobbying for animals; Eileen of Clare Greyhound who introduced her to this world; Martina of Baby Dog Rescue who has helped Marita greatly with dogs and their care. They all support one another and lend a hand when one is struggling to cope financially or emotionally.
Marita’s motto is one she urges everyone to keep in mind when deciding on getting a pet: “Adopt don’t shop.”