The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is “stretched to breaking point” due to the volume of animal cruelty reports it is receiving.
The animal welfare charity is appealing for support to help more animals.
Its annual inspectorate report shows that 16,211 calls were made to the ISPCA’s National Animal Cruelty Helpline in 2017, resulting in 3,273 investigations.
A total of 1,250 animals were seized or surrendered, while 19 new prosecutions were initiated and a record 21 cases finalised in court under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.
The charity said these prosecutions represent just some of the horrific cases of animal cruelty and distressing situations ISPCA inspectors face during the course of their work.
Since the Animal Health and Welfare Act came into force four years ago, the ISPCA helpline has handled 69,211 calls and undertaken 14,338 investigations.
A total of 4,045 animals have been seized or surrendered in that time. Some 111 prosecutions have been initiated and 46 of these having been finalised in court to-date, including the 21 finalised last year.
The ISPCA said it has been “disappointed” at some of the penalties imposed, but welcomed the fact that last year saw the first custodial sentences imposed for offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act .
These included an 18-month sentence for cruelty offences in conjunction with a life ban on keeping animals imposed on a man who brutally killed his own dog and a two-month custodial sentence imposed on a man who failed to seek appropriate veterinary treatment for a dog with severe injuries to its jaw.
The ISPCA said the prosecutions were an indication that its inspectors are having an impact on identifying and dealing with animal cruelty and has appealed for more funding to help fight animal cruelty across Ireland and to allow the ISPCA to reach the eight counties which currently do not have an ISPCA inspector.
Chief executive Andrew Kelly said its inspectors “are under so much pressure” there are large parts of the country they cannot reach.
“Our resources are now stretched to breaking point and we need more inspectors on the ground to deal with reports of animal cruelty,” he said.
“Our aim is to recruit enough inspectors to cover the whole of the country and we are appealing to the Government and the animal-loving public to help us with this work.
“It costs more than €50,000 to keep an inspector on the road including vehicle costs, veterinary costs, uniform and equipment, administrative support, and salary.
“With 88% of our funding received from members of the public and through gifts in wills, the ISPCA relies heavily on public support to continue our vital work preventing animal cruelty and alleviating animal suffering.”
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