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Horse charity raises concerns as it records its first case of suspected bestiality in ten years

The horse suffered internal damage and scarring, according to an animal welfare group.

Brianna
Brianna
Image: My Lovely Horse

AN ANIMAL WELFARE charity says it has recorded its first suspected case of bestiality since being founded ten years ago. 

The horse suffered internal damage and scarring apparently after being sexually abused by its owner, according to My Lovely Horse Rescue.

It was taken from its owner in another county after the group received a report about the allegations, and it now lives at the organisation’s centre in Kildare.

My Lovely Horse Rescue is now encouraging people to speak up where they believe animals are being mistreated.

The charity, which was founded in 2011, has highlighted the case of Brianna, a mare which they contend was seriously harmed apparently by the actions of its owner prior to coming to their centre last year.

Veterinarian John Drum inspected Brianna at the Kildare centre last August. He told The Journal that the animal had external and internal injuries, including damage to two parts of the horse’s genitals, leading the horse to become incontinent.

“There was a lot of damage to the vagina and she was pooling a lot of urine and not able to control it. That led to a lot of scalding on the back legs,” he said.

He noted that he cannot confirm that abuse took place and was only responsible for inspecting the animal.

“I examined the horse and the charity can combine that inspection with the eyewitness report. I found that there was unusual damage to the back passage of the horse, and it still has scars to this day.

“I haven’t come across bestiality in 25 years but the horse was in a bad way. Horses can pick up injuries from giving birth and the like so it’s definitely a part of the horse’s life that it does incur a lot of injury in the natural course of things, but the injuries in this case were just different.”

Drum has seen Brianna a number of times since as part of his work with the charity, and while she is doing better, she has “permanent damage” to her body.

The charity’s co-founder, Martina Kenny, said it had been contacted by two witnesses who said they had seen the abuse take place “numerous times” at the farm.

“We can see the damage that’s been done,” Kenny said.

“My god, she [Brianna] was angry when she first came to us. We’ve spent a fortune on her already with vets and a physio, and she may have to get an operation. Some people think animals don’t feel pain but they do, they just can’t talk about it.”

It is believed there were no other horses at the farm at the time.

The charity updated the horse’s documentation to ensure it now legally belongs to the charity and then gave it the name Brianna. 

While My Lovely Horse Rescue encouraged the witnesses to report the allegations to gardaí, they declined. No investigation has taken place. 

“The person who did this to Brianna is a well known person in the community and the witnesses – they’re not from Ireland – won’t say anything, and I can’t blame them because they live too close,” Kenny added.

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“It would really cause a lot of hardship for them in the [area] they’re in and they just feel if they were to say anything it would cause ramifications for them. But the case can’t be prosecuted because of it.”

The owner has not tried to reclaim the horse since it was taken in by the charity. 

The law against bestiality in Ireland dates back to 1861, and notes that anyone convicted of the crime will be liable “to be kept in penal servitude for life”.

There have been fewer than ten prosecutions taken under the legislation in the last three years. 

It is believed the horse was not registered with the Department of Agriculture, Kenny said. This would have made it legally difficult to identify the owner if a case was taken, she added. 

My Lovely Horse Rescue, which works with local authorities on animal welfare in Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny, was founded in 2011 and has expanded to working across the country to shelter animals of all kinds from neglect and abuse. 

Kenny said the group still sees “an awful lot of neglect and abandonment” of horses but that it had never come across a case similar to that of Brianna previously.

“This is why people really need to speak out if they believe something like this is happening, it shouldn’t be ignored just because the victim is an animal.”

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