THERE IS NOT a major welfare problem in the horse sector, the Minister for Agriculture has said.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, was asked about the issue by Deputy Thomas Pringle.
Pringle wanted to know what the Minister’s plans were regarding introducing a scheme to deal with unwanted horses and equines around the State. He said this would ease the burden on animal welfare groups that are inundated with rescues and the costs involved in dealing with abandoned animals.
In response, Minister Coveney said that his Department is keeping the horse welfare situation “under review and, in particular, the need for additional welfare measures”.
However, 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.
The Minister said that his department, in conjunction with the local authorities and the gardaí are “adopting a pro-active approach in relation to welfare issues in the horse sector”.
He said this has reduced the numbers of abandoned horses throughout the country, particularly in urban areas.
Minister Coveney noted the recent seizures of 82 horses in Cork city, saying that while a small number had to be euthanised on welfare grounds, the majority are being re-homed or are being moved to registered equine premises.
Coveney said his department devotes “considerable resources” to issues relating to the welfare of animals including horses.
To date this year, my department has paid some €2.5m to the Local Authorities under the Control of Horses Act to enable them to deal with stray and unwanted horses. My department also provides considerable financial support to animal welfare organisations to assist them in the delivery of animal care and welfare services. In 2012, this funding came to a total of €1,365,000 to some 140 organisations. I plan to make an allocation in respect of 2014 shortly.
The Minister urged members of the public to report instances of abuse to the Animal Welfare Helpline on 1850 211 990.