Monday 16 December 2019

Hospital's wild cat cull over flea bites on hold

Caroline Crawford

WILD cats at a Galway hospital are to be given a reprieve after a HSE decision to cull the animals was put on hold.

Management at University Hospital Galway implemented the cull of feral cats in a bid to bring a flea outbreak at the hospital under control.

Last month it emerged that the HSE West had brought in a pest control company to capture and destroy feral cats at the hospital. More than 15 cats were killed within the first few days of the cull.

However, the move was met with outrage by animal welfare groups. The HSE has now held a meeting with a number of groups and is considering alternative solutions to get the outbreak under control.

A spokesperson for the Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) said it had met HSE representatives in a bid to end the cull and put forward alternatives.

The cats were targeted after the hospital suffered an outbreak of fleas last month which led to a number of staff being bitten.

The outbreak occurred in the outpatient department. An investigation discovered that the bites were being caused by cat fleas.

A statement from the HSE said the animals were being "humanely put down" if rehousing was not possible. A HSE spokesman said the hospital was taking the steps because it had a "responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being" of patients and staff.

Irish Independent

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