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Wednesday 1 October 2014

ISPCA calls for 'sulky racing' ban after latest injury

Published 08/06/2014 | 02:30

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DANGEROUS PRACTICE: A good Samaritan comes to the rescue of a pony injured by ‘sulky' road racing
A sulky rider. A sulky is a lightweight cart having two wheels and a seat for the driver only but usually without a body, generally pulled by horses and is used for harness races.
A sulky rider. A sulky is a lightweight cart having two wheels and a seat for the driver only but usually without a body, generally pulled by horses and is used for harness races.

ANIMAL welfare workers have called for a ban on 'sulky' racing following another incident in which a pony was left badly injured after crashing off a road into a fence.

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The latest incident happened in Tipperary town, where the pony was abandoned after being driven into a heavy wooden fence while being raced. Passersby went to the assistance of the pony, called gardai and alerted the ISPCA. The animal was badly shaken by the crash, but suffered no permanent injuries and is said to be recovering well in an Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) sanctuary.

Witnesses said the man racing the pony left the scene with the pony, still tethered to the trap, where it fell.

ISPCA chief executive, Dr Andrew Kelly, this weekend called for an end to "this life-threatening activity" as the sulky racing season gets under way. He told the Sunday Independent: "Driving young horses and ponies flat-out at excessive speed on Ireland's busy roads, often by children as young as 10 years old, is not only risking the lives of innocent road users, the people involved in sulky road racing, but also the welfare of the animals.

"All it takes is one trip or stumble, which can be fatal, cause a significant injury to the horse or cause a serious road traffic collision. From an animal welfare point of view, these animals are often far too young to be broken, causing serious damage to their undeveloped joints and ligaments. A serious accident or fatality is inevitable. The welfare of animals used to engage in this practice has been blatantly ignored. We rescue and treat many horses and ponies abandoned and injured from 'sulky road racing'.

"The most common injuries we see are broken knees, swollen joints, and neck injuries caused by badly fitted tack. The ISPCA urgently calls on the government not only to deal with this public safety and serious animal welfare issue, but also to ensure that local authorities carry out their responsibilities under the Control of Horses Act (1996) and remove this danger from Ireland's roads."

In October last year a sulky pony was abandoned and died at the side of the Limerick to Cork road after it crashed into a parked car. The pony was left to bleed to death from a deep laceration to its throat.

In May 2012 a video of a sulky being driven along the main Cork to Mallow road, weaving in and out of traffic including articulated lorries, went viral on the internet. Five men were subsequently sentenced to three months imprisonment and banned from driving for six years.

The ISPCA said it would like to commend the "kind and caring members of the public" who went to the pony's assistance in Tipperary and alerted gardai and the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline.

It urged any member of the public who witnesses sulky racing to contact their helpline on (1890) 515-515.

Sunday Independent

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