ALMOST THREE AND a half thousand horses had to be seized from neglectful owners last year – and not all of them could be rehomed or given shelter.
Figures released by Agriculture, Food and the Marine Minister Simon Coveney showed that between the beginning of January 2013 and the middle of December, a total of 3,488 horses had been impounded.
It appears that particular care was taken to identify neglected horses or horses whose ownership was not transparent – the figures are much higher than even 2010, when 2,418 horses were seized. In 2011, 2,936 horses were seized and in 2012, the number was 2,969.
Just this week, Minister Coveney said that there is “no evidence of a major welfare problem in the horse sector at present due to the relatively high level of horse slaughterings this year and the very good weather well into the autumn, which has created a very favourable fodder situation”.
Of these, the most were taken in from the various Dublin county and city council jurisdictions (a total of 635), while Galway city came next with 295 (no horses were seized in the Galway city area); Cork county and city with 293; and Limerick city and county with 249. Kildare was not far behind with 245 horses seized in the county last year.
Other horses were seized in Wicklow (202), Wexford (107), Westmeath (55), Waterford county and city (63), Tipperary north and south (171), Sligo (56), Roscommon (138), Offaly (49), Monaghan (80), Meath (159), Mayo (143), Louth (115), Longford (18), Leitrim (14), Laois (168), Kilkenny (77), Kerry (23), Donegal (25) and Clare (47). There were no horses seized in Cavan this year (compared to 9 last year) and the figure for Carlow has not been finalised.
While no official extra crackdown was announced this year, the higher numbers come after a bad start to the year for the Department of Agriculture in relation to the horsemeat scandal. It was subsequently discovered that while products containing horsemeat were processed in Ireland, the horsemeat itself did not come from Irish horses.
Coveney said this week that his department was working with the gardai and local authorities in a “pro-active approach” to horse welfare issues.