Alarm over kids' roles in animal abuse cases
Charities have demanded that animal welfare be taught as a primary school module after expressing alarm at the number of youngsters involved in horrific acts of cruelty.
Animal welfare experts admitted they were "shocked and appalled" at the involvement of minors in a number of sickening acts of cruelty which ranged from a cat being tortured to death in Dublin to a rabbit being beheaded in Cork.
In Wicklow, animal welfare inspectors and gardaí were left sickened by separate axe attacks on two horses.
In Dublin, a pet dog was tortured and then beaten to death with the young thugs responsible leaving a note mocking the owners.
There have also been multiple reports in Cork that a teenage gang is using fighting dogs to hunt pet cats which are then torn to pieces.
A number of animal welfare groups ranging from the ISPCA to DAWG expressed concern at the spiralling number of cruelty cases they are now being forced to deal with.
DAWG admitted that its resources were now "stretched to the limit" to deal with cases of deliberate cruelty and animals that are being abandoned or neglected.
One ISPCA official said there was growing alarm over the number of children involved in serious acts of animal cruelty.
"The concern I have with some of the cases that I see, and not just the ISPCA but with other welfare organisations, is there seems to be intentional and deliberate cruelty," she said.
"Whether they are doing these acts of cruelty for a laugh or whether they are doing it for social media, I just don't know.
"But we are getting an awful lot more reports of minors being involved in animal cruelty.
"This is really very, very concerning going forward.
The inspector argued that, as a society, Ireland had to tackle the trend head on.
"I really believe that there has been enough talk about animal education in schools - I think it is now time to stop talking and go ahead and do it," she said.
"We should be getting into the schools, showing people what is happening out in the world and using that as a platform to educate young people that this won't be tolerated. It is not right and it is a criminal offence."
Such education modules in primary schools would also focus on the positives of animal ownership, care and enjoyment.
The ISPCA said that, since the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2014 came into force there had been a total of 40 prosecutions triggered by its inspectors.