Rescue workers battle to save dozens of abandoned horses facing freeze agony
Over a 100 horses are facing death in northwest Dublin as they fail to find food or shelter.
The sub-zero temperatures are taking a heavy toll on animals throughout the country.
Dublin SPCA spokesperson, Miriam Kerins said staff have been spending their days out in the bitter cold to provide relief to animals.
"At the moment, the shelter is open, but people from the public are not coming in because of the snow," Ms Kerins said.
"That gives us the chance to send inspectors and (DSPCA members) around Dublin, where a number of stricken-animals have no access to shelter or water.
"It's a terrible worry, they're extremely exposed and often emaciated, a few of them have died already and it will only get worse."
Charity workers provide bales of hay and water to the horses but there are too many to bring back to the animal shelter.
One particular area of Dublin -- Dunsink in Finglas -- is particularly "shocking", according to the DSPCA.
"Dunsink is like a waste tip, people are bringing their horses there and leaving them because they don't have the space or can't look after them," Ms Kerins said.
"It's not the only area where this is happening but it's definitely the one that has been the most affected, there are more than 100 horses there at the moment.
"Some of the animals have been tied up, and with the eight centimetres of snow, they have no way of accessing the other side of the field and getting water.
"That leaves them in real danger of starving and eventually dying.
"There were quite a few foals and many of the mares were heavily pregnant, so they will be even more vulnerable to the weather.
"Six of them had been buried by Tuesday so we think there might be more than 20 dead by the end of this week," Ms Kerins added.
Neglected horses are not the only animals under threat during the cold spell -- well-looked after pets can suddenly be put in danger by their owners unintentionally.
"We're having problems with people walking their dogs, taking them off their lead," Ms Kerins said.
"Dogs can lose their scent in this weather and get lost, their weight can also crack ice on a pond and we've had to save a few dogs that nearly drowned this week already.
"Another concern is that they may ingest the likes of salt and anti-freezing chemicals, licking them off their paws which can be poisonous so we're asking people to please make sure they wipe the snow off their animals' legs and stomachs.
"And never leave pets in the car during winter as the cold weather is like a coffin, the car will act as fridge and it will only take minutes for the animal to freeze to death," said Ms Kerins.
For more advice on pet care over the winter period, visit www.dspca.ie