To some it may seem strange, but Olivia Kennedy, a veterinarian in Ireland who cares deeply about dogs — especially those who have been abandoned — wanted to experience what it feels like to be given up and lost.
So, working with a rescue called Lucy’s Trust, Kennedy was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location where she was left to find her way home. She told the Irish News, “I had to try and find my way home. I tried to get into the mindset of a dog, who was unsure who to trust, or where to go.”
Unlike a stray dog, she had a video camera and was being tracked by a GSP system for safety. “For me it was an emotionally exhausting experience,” Kennedy says. “Even though I knew that I would be getting home at some stage, I just didn’t know when.”
Lucy’s Trust started a Stray campaign to raise awareness of the problem of people abandoning dogs, which peaks between November and January every year. The nonprofit has found that people are abandoning older dogs, barking dogs, dogs who shed, and for a number of other reasons.
“If you chose to abandon your pet, you must realize, there is not always a happy ending,” a spokesperson at Lucy’s Trust says. “Stray dogs are shot for worrying livestock, killed on the roads, die from exhaustion, exposure, starvation, contract diseases in pounds and can die from them, can be picked up by people up to no good, and can find themselves abused, in dog-fighting rings as bait, or in back yard breeding operations.”
“There are many reasons why animal rescues exist, the problem of stray dogs is one of them. In recent years, we have all but forgotten about what it means to be a stray dog.”
Kennedy wants people to think about the consequences, and to think about alternatives. “Every day dogs are abandoned, without thought as to the consequence for that animal, though through my work as a veterinary surgeon for almost ten years, I have met people who admitted to ‘dumping’ their dogs, and felt an immense amount of guilt about it for many years afterward.”
You can watch a video document of Kennedy’s experiences on Lucy’s Trust YouTube Channel.