Huge increase in dumping of horses as recession bites
HORSES are the new unwanted Christmas pets. Animal inspectors say there has been a huge upsurge in the number of the animals being dumped or abandoned.
One veteran pet inspector yesterday revealed there are between 40 and 50 unwanted horses and ponies in one council stable that owners can no longer stable and feed.
Ted O'Connor, from the Cork Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA), said he had seem a massive increase in the number of horses and ponies being abandoned.
In Co Kerry, the society said it was getting daily reports of abandoned and underfed horses and ponies; maltreatment of donkeys was also reported.
While the treatment of cats and dogs had improved, Mr O'Connor said the horse had been hit hard by the recession.
The market for buying and selling horses and ponies had collapsed and Mr O'Connor said he and his colleagues were seeing as many stray horses rescued as dogs.
"People just cant afford to keep them anymore. It's a big responsibility having a horse; to feed him were talking about €100 to €150 a week and if you're unlucky, you may have to call the vet -- then you're in trouble (with bills)," he said.
Apart from dogs, the CSPCA also picked up a badger, a swan and a racing pigeon over the Christmas holidays.
The badger was put to sleep because of injuries sustained, while the pigeon was able to continue on its way home following a few days' rest.
Animal welfare experts are talking to horse owners on how to improve their treatment of the animals.
Harry McDaid, chief officer for the Kerry Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KSPCA), said since November the public had been contacting the centre in Tralee to report starving ponies and horses.
In some cases, the ponies were so ill they have had to be put down, and some were being abandoned "down bohereens" and remote rural roads.
Many of these animals were bought during the boom, but families can no longer afford to feed them and the meat factories only wanted horses with plenty of flesh, he said.
Mr McDaid said while shelter was important for horses during this cold spell, a good horse blanket would suffice, alongside a cover where the horse could go, and plenty of feed.
In 2009, the KSPCA received some 740 calls about cruelty to animals, a huge increase on the previous years. Mr McDaid said he wished to commend the awareness of the public in Kerry who showed great readiness to contact KSPCA members when they saw cruelty.