FIGURES FOR THE first half of this year indicate that the horse welfare crisis is continuing with some 2,488 horses seized between January and April.
The numbers supplied by Minister Simon Coveney show the problem is worst in counties like Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Mayo and Wicklow.
Some 200 horses have been seized by South Dublin County Council so far this year and, as the chart above shows, it is the local authority with the largest number of equine seizures, followed by Kildare County Council and Mayo County Council.
There are just two councils that have not seized any horses this year – Cavan County Council and Galway City Council – which have had low seizure numbers for the last three years.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams recently raised the issue with Coveney, asking him if his attention had been drawn to the fact that horse rescue organisations are “struggling to continue with their work” due to the fee they are charged to rescue these animals from pounds.
A number of examples have emerged of charity offers to rehome horses being refused by pounds run by councils. In April, four pregnant mares were euthanised by Kilkenny County Council, despite rehoming offers from numerous equine rescue services.
At the time, the council said that funding from Coveney’s department had been cut and that it no longer funds rehoming of horses. It said this meant that each council is expected to recover its full costs from the person rehoming a horse, and many charities are unable to manage this.
In his response to Adams, however, the Minister said that rehoming fees are set by local authorities and that his department does offer them €200 towards the cost of rehoming each horse, in an effort to ensure increased rehoming of un-wanted equines.
He said he had also specifically increased funding in 2014 for animal welfare organisations involved in horse welfare activities.