Horses Photo: Michael Eisenriegler

Councillor calls for stronger enforcement of animal welfare laws in Limerick

July 26th, 2018

A Sinn Féin councillor has called for greater enforcement of animal welfare laws after figures revealed that 90 per cent of horses seized in Limerick so far this year have been put to sleep.

Séighin Ó Ceallaigh recently submitted an official question to the Council over the issue, revealing that 118 horses were seized in Limerick so far this year, 107 of which had to be euthanized.

“The issue of horse welfare is as big as ever,” Cllr Ó Ceallaigh said. “To put it bluntly, there are 107 dead horses in Limerick alone, just halfway through the year,” he added.

Of the 118 horses seized, only 13 were microchipped. By law, if you own or keep a horse, it must be microchipped and must have an official identification document.

Cllr Ó Ceallaigh said that there is major investment needed for a campaign to ensure that horses are microchipped, so that their owners are held responsible and their welfare ensured.

“The fact that only 11 per cent of the horses seized were microchipped, as is the law, shows that the law is failing and must be restored for the sake of the animals.”

Cllr Ó Ceallaigh also expressed his concern over sulky racing in the city. A sulky consists of an open, lightweight two-wheeled cart built to carry up to two people. The cart is pulled by horses and is a popular mode of transport among the Traveller community.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has called for authorities to impose a total ban on the grounds that horse welfare is “blatantly ignored”.  The ISPCA have said they regularly rescue and treat horses and ponies that have been abandoned and injured from sulky road racing.

The recently appointed Chief Superintendent for the county, Gerard Roche, said that a new community policing initiative will focus more on quality of life issues, including animal welfare.

Earlier this year, Mr Creed introduced new sulky education awareness programs to curb illegal road racing.  The Department said the course would be run by a team of veterinary surgeons and nurses with a “clear understanding of the cultural sensitivities” surrounding participation in road racing.

Cllr Ó Ceallaigh, however, has also called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to take further action and provide more resources to councils. “He has refused to fully fund the local authority in dealing with horse welfare, and unfortunately the council is left to pick up half of the costs, which is unsustainable.”

Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath welcomed confirmation that Tipperary is be included as one of the locations of the new sulky education awareness programs.

Mr McGrath introduced a private member’s Bill for the prohibition of Sulky-racing at the start of the year. The Bill would see a ban on sulky racing where no lawful permission has been granted.

He said that he moved to introduce the bill following growing concern around the clear threat to both animal and human life.

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