35 'emaciated' racehorses rescued by gardaí as animal cruelty investigation is launched
Gardaí have launched a major investigation into animal cruelty after 35 thoroughbred horses were seized last month.
The Irish Independent understands the animals were found in an emaciated and malnourished state when gardaí and a veterinary surgeon went to the property near Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, on June 19.
Gardaí were alerted by members of the public who were concerned the apparently neglected horses were cramped into an area of just four acres with no fodder.
Sources have revealed that the decision to move the animals from the land was made after they were examined by the vet.
The 35 horses were found in a "very bad state" and "emaciated" from malnourishment and neglect, according to one eye witness.
Gardaí arranged for the animals to be transported to Wicklow.
They are now being cared for by the Irish Horse Welfare Trust while the investigation continues.
As part of the process, the horses will have their microchips read to establish their identities and ultimate owners.
It is understood that the Wexford enquiry is interconnected with a number of separate fraud investigations from around the country that are linked to the horse breeding sector.
The ongoing enquiries are understood to involve a number of individuals purportedly involved in the international sale and purchase of thoroughbred horses.
It is also alleged one businessman was scammed out of a large amount of money on the pretence that it was to purchase land abroad for the purpose of raising thoroughbreds.
One of the individuals concerned is understood to use a number of aliases.
A website linked to the individuals under investigation was taken down in recent weeks.
It was offering a range of services to the international horse breeding industry, including the sale and purchase of high-value race horses.
When contacted by the Irish Independent, Horse Racing Ireland said the organisation had no knowledge of any of the individuals concerned or the company involved in the alleged scam.
A spokesperson said it would be "very unusual" to see so many horses being seized at one time.
They pointed out that cases of cruelty and neglect are investigated by gardaí and the local authorities.
The spokesperson added that potential investors or race horse owners should deal only with individuals and stables that are properly registered with Horse Racing Ireland.