Urgent warning on horse welfare
Horse owners have warned of an 'animal welfare catastrophe' next winter unless the Department of Agriculture moves to create an outlet for unwanted horses.
High prices and a scarcity of fodder for next winter, combined with the high cost of disposal of horses, are set to see thousands of horses suffer unless something is done now, the Stallion Owners' Society has claimed.
Kevin Croke of the society said an exit programme for unwanted horses was essential to prevent horses and ponies being dumped and left to starve to death next winter.
"At the moment it costs €150 to mark, microchip and register a horse and it costs €150 to dispose of a horse at the local knackery, making it €300 to get rid of an animal," said Mr Croke. "But people who won't spend that €300 will just go up the road to the nearest forestry and dump the horse instead.
"We need some sort of methodology put in place immediately where unwanted horses can be disposed of cheaply, otherwise next winter will be a disaster."
The society has invited all interested parties to attend a meeting in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Co Laois, at 8pm tonight.
Among the potential strategies to be discussed at tonight's meeting include amendments to slaughter rules that prevent animals who have been administered with bute being killed for meat.
"Cattle are routinely injected with medication and we eat them for meat. Why can't a testing regime be put in place for horses at the factory?