The body of a horse has been found tied up with a rope to a gate at a beauty spot in Co. Clare this morning, in what was described as a “sickening” act of animal cruelty.
WARNING: Graphic images of the dead horse below which some people may find upsetting.
The filly’s frozen remains, which appeared emaciated, were discovered at around 8.30am by a passer-by at the entrance of Glenagross Forrest, in Meelick, which is owned by commercial semi-state company Coillte.
The female passer-by claimed that, when she contacted gardaí to report the matter, she was informed it was “nothing to do with them” and that gardaí referred her to Clare County Council.
A spokeswoman attached to the Garda Press Office responded that there was “no record of a call to the Communications Room in Henry Street”.
However, responding to the Garda statement, the woman reiterated that she telephoned the station at 8.37am this morning and reported the incident. The woman also reiterated she was informed it was not a Garda matter.
Part of the horse’s back passage appeared to have suffered an injury, which a source said may have been caused by wildlife feeding off it.
Local farmer Pat O’Brien, who also came upon the dead horse, said he has discovered three dead horses tied to the same gate in recent times.
Mr O’Brien said it was well known that dead horses were being dumped at the spot over a period of years.
He said he believed this horse was probably dead before it was tied to the gate.
Speaking at the scene, he said it appeared the horse was “badly neglected”, but he added that it could also have been suffering from an incurable disease, and that the owners may not have wanted to pay a vet or arrange to pay for the animal to be destroyed humanely.
“With my experience with animals I would think malnutrition would have been a big factor,” he said.
“It could have been a number of factors. Apart from malnutrition (they) can get a lot of other diseases if they're not properly looked after and minded. It’s not uncommon where horses are found badly neglected.
“It was dead before he was brought here. If (the horse) is on a trailer, if you tie them onto the barrier, you just drive away with your car or van or whatever it may be, and the animal is left here.
“It would be a young horse I would imagine. Looking at his feet it wouldn't be a very old horse.“
“I would see a lot of this as I go from here to Limerick everyday. I won’t mention the names of the places, but I see a lot of horses wandering around the place and I look at some of them and I say they are very, very badly neglected.”
Mr O’Brien complained that while he has to abide by regulations regrading his own farm animals as set down by the Department of Agriculture others seem to be able to continually flout the laws.
“Some people do look after their horses, but with all the regulations that are there, I can never understand how those people can have horses, no regulations, no micro-chipping, no anything. Something needs too be done and there needs to be some control about the amount of horses.”
Mr O’Brien said horses are often left for dead in the winter when grass and hay are in short supply and shelter is urgently needed.
“If they're not getting some bit of hay or feeding, this is what’s going to happen.
“There seems to be no regulation for these people, they don't have to have to microchip their animals, and there’s no way the owner of this animal will be found.”
“We all have to comply with the Department’s regulations but those people seem to be a law onto themselves.”
The female passer-by, who said she did not wish to be identified, said she felt “physically sick” when she came upon the horse.
“It’s sickening, I couldn't leave it unreported,” she said.
“People need to be aware this is happening. It’s not right - what these people did was wrong, they shouldn’t have dumped that animal there,” she added.
A spokeswoman for Clare County Council said the local authority was aware of the incident and was making inquiries.
When contacted, Coillte said it had “removed the the dead animal safely” and “will liaise with the authorities to seek any evidence which may lead to the prosecution of those responsible”.
A Coillte spokeswoman said the company estimated it had spent “in excess of half a million euro over the past four years” cleaning and restoring areas following illegal dumping.
Coillte are custodians of 7% of Ireland’s land with its forests and lands extending to over 440,000 hectares.
The spokeswoman added: “Coillte are the largest landowner in the country and our forests are often located in remote and isolated areas. Unfortunately this has led to illegal dumping, and other anti-social behaviours conducted at some of our forest properties.”
“Coillte takes a proactive approach to managing this issue. In areas of known as ‘hotspots’ for illegal dumping and other anti-social activities, Coillte will carry out surveillance and seek to identify and prosecute those responsible.”
“Coillte works closely with the County Councils and the Gardaí in order to prevent and deter these activities.”
The spokeswoman urged “members of the public to report any illegal dumping or other anti-social activities on our lands to the authorities” or to contact the company’s “24-hour manned confidential line 1890 800 455.”