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An Open Letter to Farmers (Owners of Farm Collies/Sheepdogs)

In our mission to address the rising issue of unwanted dogs, we’ve penned this open letter to farmers on the occasion of World Spay Day – 27th February 2024. Let’s advocate for responsible breeding practices together.


Dear Farmers,

Today, on World Spay Day 2024, we appeal to your compassion and responsibility to bring a halt to “unplanned” pregnancies in working dogs. This is a huge issue that affects not only our small dog rescue but the entire country. We are on our knees begging you to take positive action as we are stretched to breaking point!

Unplanned pregnancies among farm dogs significantly contribute to the increasing numbers of unwanted, abandoned and surrendered dogs all over rural Ireland. In our home county Galway, over 44% of dogs entering the county pound in 2023 were collies and the majority of these were picked up straying in the region of agricultural lands or as a direct result of livestock worrying.

It is becoming almost impossible to find homes, even in rural Ireland, for collies. We are very lucky in that we can get some of the hundreds that come through our doors to a collie specific rescue in the UK but the escalating numbers are surpassing capacity and the opportunity for rehoming in the UK is quickly drying up. These dogs will be left without any options.

We acknowledge that your livelihood depends on breeding animals for a living, and the majority of you have huge respect and care for those animals until they are sold. However, the life of a working collie has changed, with so many of them made redundant due to changes and progress in the farming world. The reality is that there is no real market for these dogs and the illusion of a happy ending when neighbours take in your pups often leads to surrenders at local pounds or rescues.

The pounds are full of yearling collies, sheepdogs and farm dogs, that have been surrendered or abandoned once it became obvious that these cute, fluffy, puppies, were not in fact the perfect family pet. Collies and farm dogs are working dogs, and while they are generally gentle, kind and shy with humans, and often make great family pets, many of them are very specifically designed for working, and they can often get over-stimulated and overwhelmed in a busy house or an urban environment. We implore you to reconsider your approach to your working dogs. We’ll go further and say it is your duty – to your livelihood, to your animals and to your wider community.

Please don’t dismiss unplanned pregnancies as accidents. We have heard all the excuses and they are not acceptable. MADRA and many other animal welfare organisations can subsidise (or cover) the cost of neutering female dogs through initiatives like Millie’s Fund ( so we know this isn’t about the money. Only YOU can take action to improve the current situation. The farming community, YOUR community, is at the heart of so many towns and villages throughout Ireland, and we desperately need your help.

Please engage in open conversations within your community, please take responsibility for your role in allowing thousands of unwanted farm dogs and collies into the world, and please, please – for World Spay Day – please spay your female dogs and put a stop to careless breeding.


The Directors, Staff and Volunteers of MADRA Dog Rescue