Horse Welfare – cruelty in winter

There are hundreds of horses uncared for and under and unfed at Ronanstown and at Dunsink in Finglas. The DSPCA tries to care for some of these animals but the situation at the Dunsink Lane end of the Dunsink Dump landmass is critical. As a councillor, I have discussed this issue with Dublin City Council and had special meetings with the Finglas Horse and Pony club to try to get a resolution to the horse welfare problem. Fingal County Council have been reluctant to meet with the Northwest Area of Dublin City Council, partly I suspect because they will be held to account on the horses issue. The DSPCA have microchipped all the horses legally held in Finglas in the recent past however, there is a constant flux in horse numbers and obvious evidence of poor care and nutrition in this area. Sufficient land and stabling for legally held horses in this area is urgent. I demand action from Fingal this week with respect to the horses. Many deaths from exposure are likely with tonight’s -5 on my car thermometer in Finglas.

Details on the concerns of Mairead Creedon on the issue and follow-up by Mary Upton and Pat Rabbitte are shown.
Dear Councillor,

I am writing to you on the issue of cruelty to animals, in particular on the issue of abandoned and starving horses in your council area. There is a huge number of animals at the moment on lands between the M50 and Finglas. Do you know if they are being fed? Lack of evidence would show that they are not and I would like to inform you of what happened last winter in the south west area of Dublin county council.

Last winter lots of horses were abandoned and left to die. One area in particular was on some land between Adamstown train station and Ronanstown Garda station. Over the course of the winter 86 horses were abandoned and left to starve. I contacted many councillors in the area thinking that this was council land when in fact it was owner by a developer and had been repossessed by the banks. I have to commend William Lavelle, Gino Kenny and Senator Frances Fitzgerald in the work they did to have the horses finally impounded by the Dept of the environment. Unfortunately, by the time they were rounded up by the dept of the environment last march, many horses had to be put down, 27 were removed to the pound ( Dublin city pound is actually in Kilkenny to discourage people reclaiming horses and putting them right back in the same situation), and sadly 14 were found dead. Now it cost the council fourteen thousand euro to have the carcases disposed of correctly, and the thing that annoyed me the most was that this money would have gone a long way to removing the animals earlier and prevent this terrible cruelty.

If the animals in you area are not being fed and don’t survive the winter it will end up becoming a problem of huge cost to your council resources. With the economy as bad as it is at the moment this problem is going to continue. The DSPCA noticed a direct increase in numbers of abandoned horses follow fairs such as the one in Smithfield with horses being brought down from the north and sold for next to nothing, sometimes as little at €20 to kids.
The DSPCA spent most of there money last year on trying to deal with this problem and I fear this year with money being as tight as it is that there will be no hope at all for these unfortunate animals.

Both Pat Rabbitte and Mary Upton brought up the issue in the Dail, William Lavelle took the following motion to council
“That this council resolves to designate named inspectors from the Dublin SPCA as ‘Authorised Officers’ under the Control of Horses Act 1996 for the purpose of supporting South Dublin County Council in meeting it’s responsibilities under the Act and to allow the DSPCA more effectively to undertake it’s duties in relation to horse welfare.”

With the weather getting colder and colder please spare a though for poor, unfortunate and hungry horses standing frozen in fields the length of the city.
I will also send you the email I received form Pat Ribbette with the order of business from the Dail on the 20th of April last year.
Thank you for reading my letter and please as someone of influence I ask you to look into the matter.
Yours sincerely
Mairead Creedon

Parliamentary Question No. 838

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is cruelty to horses in some areas of Dublin; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that in the Clondalkin area a number of horses are believed to have died from malnutrition; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the local authorities are not equipped to deal with the problem; his views on whether changes to legislation are necessary to deal with this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Pat Rabbitte.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)
I propose to take question no 834 & 838 together.
It is clear from meetings held in recent months between officials of my Department and representatives of Local Authority Veterinary Inspectors, Animal Welfare Organisations and the Horse Industry that there is an increase in the number of reported horse welfare problems including an increasing risk of abandonment of horses.

Local Authorities have extensive powers under the Control of Horses Act 1996 which was enacted to address problems caused by wandering horses in urban and rural areas. The Act provides for a comprehensive range of measures and enables local authorities to, inter alia, designate control areas; require the licensing of horses within such areas; seize and detain stray and unlicensed horses; confiscate horses, which stray repeatedly; dispose of horses seized; and, maintain a register of horses licensed and seized. The Act also contains provisions on the identification of horses and criminal liability for permitting or causing a horse to pose a danger to persons or property. I have been in touch with my colleague Mr. John Gormley TD, Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government in regard to the implementation of the Control of Horses Act 1996 to underline how the ongoing effective implementation of this Act by Local Authorities can assist with reducing potential horse welfare problems developing particularly with regard to those horses that are being abandoned.

My Department’s statutory responsibility extends to the welfare and protection of farmed animals only i.e. animals normally bred or kept for the production of food or for use in or for the purpose of farming. This legislation is enforced under the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984 and the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations 2008. The main statutes governing cruelty to all animals, including horses, in this country is the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965. Responsibility for pursuing cases under this legislation rests with An Garda Síochána, who may on receipt of a complaint investigate and bring a prosecution against any person alleged to have committed an offence under this Act.

My Department also provides funding in the region of €2m per annum to assist Local Authorities in their work in implementing the Control of Horses Act. Mindful too of the valuable work being done by welfare organisations throughout the country and as a contribution towards the cost of their activities in the forthcoming year, I provided funding of €1.185 million to assist them in their work in 2010. I also urged those welfare organisations that have the capacity to deal with larger animals to consider placing greater resources in promoting horse welfare.

My Department is also nearing finalisation of the heads of an Animal Health and Welfare Bill which gives effect to commitments in the Programme for Government on issues relating to animal health and welfare including the updating of existing legislation to ensure that the welfare of all animals, including non-farm animals is properly protected and that the penalties for offenders are increased significantly. The Bill also provides for the consolidation of responsibility for the welfare of all animals (including non-farm animals) within my Department.