‘Amnesty horses’ likely to be put down

SEVEN horses surrendered yesterday under Cork city’s first “horse amnesty” will probably be put down.

Veterinary officers performed health checks on a further 48 horses during the three-hour initiative and said they were satisfied with their condition.

Cork City Council’s Jim Beecher declared the amnesty, based on others in Limerick, a complete success.

“The general health of the animals was acceptable. The vets were quite pleased with the condition of the animals,” Mr Beecher said.

“Given the success of this, we are considering doing it elsewhere in the city.”

And he said all the agencies involved were delighted with the cooperation and “take-up” from the horse- owning families who availed of the amnesty.

Several mares brought to the event were in foal and Mr Beecher said there would be follow-up checks.

“We will also undertake more head counts of horses across the city, and conduct more animal welfare checks in the coming months,” he said.

The confidential amnesty was organised by Cork City Council, its animal collection agents, Animal Control Services, the ISPCA, and the gardaí after animal welfare concerns mounted following a string of gruesome discoveries of dead horses in fields on the outskirts of the city in recent months.

Following talks with up to 12 families on the northside of the city, most of which are members of the Traveller community, the amnesty took place at an undisclosed location to ensure confidentiality.

The area and families were chosen specifically because of the high levels of horse ownership in the area.

The families were encouraged to surrender commercially unviable horses.

The city’s chief veterinary officer, Diarmuid Dooge, and ISPCA inspector, Lisa O’Donovan, were on site to check the animals.

They performed a full health check and administered worm and lice treatments free of charge on 48 animals.

The seven surrendered animals were being assessed at a pound in Glenville last night but will most likely be put down. Mr Beecher said this was the most humane way of dealing with the issue from an animal welfare point of view.

He said the amnesty has helped built trust and cooperation between the horse- owning families and the agencies dealing with animal welfare issues.

Up to 40 dead animals were found rotting in fields on the outskirts of the city since the start of the year. Several more have been found wandering, abandoned and starving.

A total of 151 stray horses were seized in Cork last year, 118 of those seized from the city’s northside.

Health warning

THE Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) issued a warning last night after an outbreak of two serious diseases in Cork city’s horses.

The ISPCA said it has helped three horses, from different parts of the city, with salmonella, in recent weeks.

Local vets have also diagnosed ‘strangles’ in other horses. Both illnesses are highly contagious.

The outbreak is affecting the ISPCA’s ability to take in animals in need because new arrivals must be quarantined.

“The ISPCA urges anybody coming into contact with equines in the greater Cork city area to take precautions to avoid the spread of the infection,” an ISPCA spokesman said.

Picture: From left, Cork’s chief veterinary officer Diarmuid Dooge doing some examinations on a six-year-old colt surrendered as part of the north-west Cork Amnesty, with Lisa O’Donovan, ISPCA, at Glenville Pound, Co Cork. Picture: Cillian Kelly

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