Taking a slash hook to the tendons of horses is an example of one of the appalling cruelties to animals being tackled by the Government in its Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012, according to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
He is also disgusted by the baiting and training elements of dog fighting and cock fighting.
Minister Coveney said: “That garages in urban areas are being prepared for audiences to come and watch two animals rip each other apart is from another era, and even then it was not acceptable.
“I will request the Garda to make an example of people and send out a very strong signal in order to try to undermine this underground industry, which is much more active throughout the country than many of us might realise.”
One provision in the Bill would make it illegal to attend a dogfight.
Introducing the Bill in the Seanad, Mr Coveney said it represents a significant step forward in animal health and welfare law, leading to a consolidation and modernisation of much of the primary legislation in this area, such as the Diseases of Animals Acts 1966 and the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
He said the Bill is vital to exploiting opportunities for food exports — prescribing, for example, fines and imprisonment where disease is spread intentionally. In these cases, or where animals are injured, the maximum penalty has been increased from €100,000 to €250,000 in major cases taken on indictment.
The Bill applies across the board, to rural and urban areas and to all animals, whether commercial, domestic or other.
For horses, for example, there are provisions to outlaw unacceptable practices in horse-breaking.
There is provision to allow animal health levies on a wider range of species and diseases than the current levies in respect of cattle and milk for control of TB and brucellosis.
“I do not think farmers need to concern themselves with the idea that there will be a whole new series of levies coming down the track”, said the Minister.
Authorised officers to enforce the Bill’s provisions will more or less remain as they are in farming and commercial management of animals — vets, at local authority level and Department level.
Gardaí and customs officers are automatically considered authorised officers.
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