Animal welfare report doesn't go far enough say campaigners
Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30
The recently published report on animal welfare from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine has been described as "well-intentioned but short-sighted" by Tiffany Quinn of the equine charity organisation, My Lovely Horse Rescue.
"While we are delighted to hear that one of the recommendations on welfare is to provide charities like us with more funding, it is not getting to the root of the problem which can only be tackled by enforcing legislations on breeding, and educating for young people," said Ms Quinn.
Equine welfare was one of several topics examined by the committee who met with relevant stakeholders within the equine industry. On completion the committee proposed some 44 recommendations across the various sectors, with animal welfare high on the agenda.
One of the recommendations was that a funding stream be formalised to the charity organisations that work on behalf of the industry, however Ms Quinn stresses that this money would be better served enforcing legislations to stamp out indiscriminate breeding which causes the vast majority of animal cruelty cases each year.
"I believe that if the whole breeding area was cleaned up, we would see an improvement within three years.
"There are far too many people still breeding horses even though they do not have the knowledge and cannot afford to take care of them. We are seeing it every day. Even though Smithfield was cleaned up, activity has been driven underground and there are a lot of minors under 18 still trading horses for cigarettes.
"This is particularly an urban problem and sadly a lot of these children believe it is their right to own a horse or pony. Nevertheless we are making progress in some urban areas, and we have had a few incidents where animals have been surrendered to us.
"However, we are still dealing with numerous cruelty cases every week, so much so that our facility in Enfield is now packed to capacity with 70 animals. We have another 200 being cared for by volunteers and in foster homes."
Like the majority of rescue centres across Ireland, My Lovely Horse Rescue relies solely on donations and fund-raising activities.
In recent weeks the volunteers have dealt with some particularly horrific cases in Dublin city centre, and another involving two horses in Glencree, Co Wicklow.
"In this incident I would think these were middle-class owners, as the kids in the city would have no way of getting the horses up the mountain.
"We found two horses dumped. One was in such poor condition it had to be humanely destroyed.
"And where there are no enforcements, there can be no sanctions," she said.
Ms Quinn is hoping to meet with Andrew Kelly, chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) to discuss the ongoing problem of equine cruelty which is resulting in the organisation turning away up to four animals a week.
"I would be delighted to meet Simon Coveney also and show him some of the cases we are dealing with on a weekly basis.
"I don't want to spend the rest of my days rescuing horses and ponies like this so we all need to work together to try and stop it."