Tuesday 24 April 2018

Shocking picture shows mistreatment of ponies and foals by 'sulkie' gangs

Shocking picture show mistreatment of ponies and foals by 'sulkie' gangs Pic: Waterford Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Shocking picture show mistreatment of ponies and foals by 'sulkie' gangs Pic: Waterford Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The savage mistreatment of ponies and foals by Traveller ‘sulkie’ gangs is yet again highlighted in these shocking pictures.

And the people who have to come to the rescue are again appealing to government to impose a complete ban on the ‘sport’ which has been shown up time and time again as a hideous form of cruelty.

Shocking picture show mistreatment of ponies and foals by 'sulkie' gangs Pic: Waterford Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Shocking picture show mistreatment of ponies and foals by 'sulkie' gangs Pic: Waterford Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Waterford Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPCA) was called out for the second time in as many weeks to the rescue of a sulkie pony abandoned in the most appalling circumstances.

On Thursday last the SPCA were called to a field between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel where a Traveller gang had left a pony and its mother to die.

It appears the mare and foal were dumped by their owners after the year-old foal was injured while being raced, probably on a public road. It had a severe gash after probably having crashed into some object or fallen while being raced. It was unable to stand and ‘lame fore and aft’, Barbara Bent, WSPCA president said.

Ms Bent said the foal was close to death when the Society was called. It had had been ‘completely clipped’ by its owners, that is had its coat shaved off to stop it from succumbing to overheating while being forced to race on roads.

“We have to really tackle this problem. We can’t have lovely foals like this totally emaciated and abandoned to die in the cold. We have to get the minister for transport or justice or whoever to tackle this problem.

“This week alone we have reports of four or five young foals being abandoned. This foal was left overnight in the frost with its coat clipped completely off. They take all the hair off because they sweat so much when they are being raced.

“It is a miracle it survived. If it had been left another day there is no doubt it would have died of hypothermia out in that field overnight. The mother is a thoroughbred mare and she has been very badly treated and the foal was still suckling off her.

“We can’t just be expected to keep going out and collecting what these people regard as ‘waste product’. They just dumped this foal and its mother out to die.

“What is wrong with this country that we are prepared to let animals be treated this way?”

Ms Bent said the mare and foal were being kept in a safe warm environment by a “friend” of the Society. “The mother is fine and we’re hopeful the foal will also recover. We’re keeping the location secret as they might come and steal them if they know where they are,” she said.

She said that last weekend the Society had been called by gardai and rescued another sulkie pony that had been dumped in a flooded ditch in Cork and was too weak to escape. “That pony was trapped in that drain for three or four days. She was covered in oedemas (sores filled with fluid) and was in a frightful state. She was taken to the Equine Rescue Centre in Mallow and hopefully she will recover. But, she had not long to go when the guards called us. If it wasn’t for them she’d be dead.”

Ms Bent said that despite the exposure of the appalling acts of animal cruelty involved in Sulkie racing – defended as part of Traveller ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’ – no government or minister had seen fit to take any action to stop the practice of allowing ponies to be raced, often to death, on public roads.

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