The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has warned that the organisation needs more funding to cope with the increase in animal cruelty cases reported last year.
Chief Inspector Conor Dowling told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland that there has been a “big leap” in the number of reported cases since the introduction of the Animal Health and Welfare Act of 2013.
He said that the public demands higher standards, but in order to meet that expectation the ISPCA needs more financial support.
The latest ISPCA Inspectorate Report, which is released on Friday, shows a marked increase in reported animal cruelty cases over the last year, with over 17,000 calls received in the past year alone.
However, the ISPCA has inspectors in only 17 counties and would like to increase that number.
“It costs up to €50,000 to keep an inspector on the road, but if we have more inspectors we then need more places for animals.
“We can’t have people out on the road, if we don’t have a place to put animals.”
Mr Dowling said that neglect of animals is the biggest problem the ISPCA faces rather than deliberate cruelty. The lack of food, housing or veterinary services. There has also been an increase in the problem of large scale hoarding.
The majority of cases they deal with involve horses and dogs, but there has been an increase in the number of cats they rescue, he said.
“We have to prioritise calls and what we can respond to on the basis of the information we receive.”
He said that last year there were 18 prosecutions in court. He defended animal protection legislation in Ireland saying it was stricter than that in the UK where the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty is one year, while in Ireland it is five years.
The ISPCA does not issue prosecutions, that is handled by the gardaí, the Department of Agirculture and local authorities, explained Mr Dowling.