ISPCA fears horse death toll will rise as cold snap bites
Pleas for rugs and food to help keep animals alive
Hundreds of horses are at risk of dying from exposure and hunger during this freezing weather, experts have warned.
The equine death toll, which was already predicted to hit its highest ever this winter, is now expected to climb further as the harsh weather takes its toll.
Barbara Bent, chairperson of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), warned that weanling and yearling horses were particularly at risk because they had little fat cover on their bodies.
"Nothing that is thin, cold or not wormed is going to survive this winter," she said. "Not with those skinning winds that are whipping around every night."
ISPCA inspectors last week found a group of 14 six-month-old foals struggling to survive in a forested area close to New Ross, Co Wexford. Two of the foals had succumbed to the cold and died by the time inspectors arrived, while a third had the highly contagious respiratory disease strangles.
The ISPCA chairperson has appealed for the public to donate rugs for the 60-odd horses currently in the charity's care.
"We are particularly in need of rugs for youngsters, anything from 4ft6in in size to 5ft," she said.