AGRICULTURE Minister Brendan Smith has shot down calls for a Government subsidised slaughter scheme for unwanted horses.
However, he said he plans to introduce compulsory registration of premises for keeping horses.
The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) warned last August that 1,000 horses would starve to death in Ireland this winter due to the credit crunch, and called on the Government, Horse Racing Ireland and other equestrian bodies to ban horse breeding. The DSPCA had to euthanise 31 horses in the first seven months of 2009.
This year equine case calls to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charity have doubled.
But the Government does not have the money to assist slaughter of unwanted animals. “I will not raise expectations that we would go down that route under any circumstances,” said Minister Smith.
He was addressing the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food where TDs raised the issue of horses being abandoned.
Deputy Seán Sherlock said the problem is particularly prevalent in north Cork, and Deputy Christy O’Sullivan from west Cork warned it will get worse in the coming months because of insufficient fodder.
Mr O’Sullivan said: “I suggest the minister should consider putting a slaughter premium in place on a one-off basis. By doing so, the minister could then put in place regulations such that we can get a handle on the breeding and keeping of horses once and for all. At the moment the issue is out of control.”
“I have no proposals, nor will I have any to provide a subsidy to slaughter animals,” replied Mr Smith.
“We are not an insurance department. We do not baby-sit horses or any other animals. I give a clear message to owners that they have a responsibility. We provided money to the voluntary organisations to re-home horses. Our district veterinary officials have been active working with the Garda Síochána and the local authorities in assisting in this.”
“We want to reach a position as soon as possible whereby if an animal is on the road, the animal and its owner can be traced immediately.”
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