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Subsidised horse disposal shelved

Plans for a subsidised disposal scheme for unwanted horses have been shelved by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, despite animal welfare organisation warnings of a looming crisis this winter.

The Minister claimed there was no evidence of an immediate problem in relation to the welfare of horses.

In a statement issued to the Farming Independent, the minister said various interests in the sector, including some animal welfare organisations, had called for measures to be introduced to deal with the surplus horses.

"While it is the responsibility of horse owners to ensure the welfare of horses in their ownership and/or their care and to dispose of them appropriately, the Department has been consulting with relevant stakeholders involved in the horse sector, including farming/industry representatives, local authorities, Teagasc and welfare bodies to gauge the extent of any developing problem in relation to the welfare of horses," the statement read.


"In this context, the positive message from Teagasc's recent fodder census survey, which indicates good grass growth throughout the country and adequate fodder stocks, suggests that there is no evidence of an immediate problem in relation to the welfare of horses.

"However, the Department will keep the situation under review."

Some 6,820 unwanted horses were slaughtered at factories up to the end of August this year and 24,207 horses were slaughtered in 2012, according to the Department.

Figures for the first six months of 2013 show 2,598 horses were seized by local authorities under the Control of Horses Act but animal welfare organisations, such as the ISPCA, claim the number of horses being abandoned will increase as the winter approaches.

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