Far more stray horses were put down in Cork in 2014 compared to previous years as their owners refused to collect them from pounds.
Figures released by Cork County Council show that 158 horses were euthanised last year, compared to 136 in 2013. Council impounded 227 horses in 2003, while it took in a further 174 last year.
But while 78 owners reclaimed their animals in 2013, just 16 turned up to get them last year.
The head of council’s environment directorate, Sharon Corcoran, said she believed the “economic downturn” had played a large part in horseowners declining to retrieve their animals.
Three horses were lucky in 2013 to be housed in sanctuaries, none got that break last year. None were taken by new owners in both years.
Ms Corcoran said that up to 2013 the Department of Agriculture reimbursed local authorities the full cost of retrieving stray horses, housing and euthanising them.
She explained one of the reasons horse owners might be reluctant to retrieve their animals was due to an increase in fees as a result of the department decision.
After collecting the animal the council is obliged to keep it for five days, have it checked out by a vet and microchip them.
If the owner agrees to take them back then they have to pay the local authority €370, which covers the cost of vets fees, collection, storage feed etc.
“Before (2014) we were able to recoup the whole cost of such operations from the Department of Agriculture. The cost to retrieve the horse was previously €100 (in 2013),” Ms Corcoran said.
“Heretofore we collected all stray horses when we received a complaint. They are quite costly to collect and we may have to review our policies on them into the future,” the senior council official added.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 more people took out dog licences in the county last year compared to 2013.
Ms Corcoran said that around 32,000 licences were issued in 2014 compared to just over 31,000 in 2013.
However, she said council officials believed that around only 80% of dogs were licensed. The annual licence costs €20 per animal.
In 2013 the council’s dog wardens issued 1,519 notices to pet owners that they had 10 days to get a licence. This figure dropped to 1,336 last year.
The number of prosecutions for failing to get a dog licence dropped to 30 last year from 45 in 2013.
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