MADRA is an acronym for Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue & Adoption… and it is also the Irish for dog.
Based in Connemara, Co Galway, we have worked to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome several thousand unwanted, abandoned and neglected dogs across the west coast of Ireland and beyond since 2005. We are an Irish registered charity and our charity number is 20072698.
Our story started in a much less enlightened era, when the dog pounds of Galway and Mayo were at capacity and euthanasia rates were as high as 83%. Our co-founder Marina Fiddler, together with friend and dog trainer Tara Nic Dhiarmada, decided to set up MADRA to help these dogs that had been let down so badly by humans. The charity was set up specifically to rescue and rehabilitate dogs that were at risk of being put to sleep because they were excess to requirements. The aim was to then place them in quality homes.
When dogs come under our care, they may go straight to the kennels or into a foster home. They’ll be micro-chipped, neutered, and vaccinated and following assessment, our team works to find loving homes for each of our rescued dogs. Our work doesn’t stop there. Once a MADRA dog, always MADRA supported – we provide ongoing training support and advice as needed.
MADRA takes in 500-600 dogs every year. We’re at 100% capacity all year round and work 365 days. We are volunteer-led with a small team of employees and over 50 regular volunteers.
While the main focus of our work is to help dogs in the Galway and Mayo local authority pounds, we also strive to help people who need to re-home their pet due to a change in their circumstances. These people often have nowhere else to turn, and may be dealing with situations that are out of their control; such as ill health, accommodation issues, and more. Since the formation of MADRA, we have seen the euthanasia rates for dogs in both Mayo and Galway pounds fall to single figures, however these figures are rising again since the post-Covid puppy rush.
We continue to work closely with the dog pounds to take in and rescue dogs but the number of dogs far out number the adoption requests we receive within Ireland so we looked farther afield. Over the years we have built partnerships with the Border Collie Trust UK, Forever Greyhounds and Irish Hounds in Need (IHIN) in Germany, as well as Greyhound Friends and Greyhound Rescue of New England in the United States to help find loving homes for our dogs.
In 2021, WAGI (We Adore Greyhounds Ireland) joined MADRA. WAGI began as the Clare Greyhound Project, set up in 2014 by Eileen Toomey and Deirdre Ryan as an emergency safe haven for greyhounds at risk in the county pound in Clare. Together we help greyhounds and lurchers to find deserving forever homes as cherished pets.
Who We Work with
At the start of 2020, we could see how far we had come but the Covid-19 Pandemic brought a whole new wave of challenges and now, in 2023, we are flooded with huge amounts of surrender request emails, and more and more dogs are being dumped. In the past year, we took in over 200 abandoned puppies, with most of these pups found alone, uncared for and at risk, after being left in ditches, bogs and fields, some of which had not even reached the age of weaning. And each of these pups has a mother who needs to be protected from producing yet another litter. In response to this epidemic of unwanted pups MADRA set up Millie’s Fund in memory of one of four pups dumped in a crate full of urine and excrement at a pier in Connemara. Millie died shortly after being rescued, her tiny stomach full of pebbles she had tried to eat in her terrible hunger.
MADRA has pledged the entire amount of their 2022 Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine grant to finance a campaign to provide free spays for female dogs in Galway.
While MADRA is a dog rescue, we do welcome a few felines each year. Elderly cat Simon recently wandered into our shelter looking for help. He was so exhausted that once safe and warm inside he slept for nearly 48 hours. Even cats know that the MADRA dog shelter is a true safe haven for all.
Our hope for the future is that we are no longer needed. Until then, we will continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome as many dogs as we can.