PUBLIC representatives have called for a full clampdown on sulky racing and the introduction of new bylaws after an exhausted horse collapsed and died in a residential neighbourhood.
The horse, which appears to have collapsed from exhaustion, was attached to a sulky cart when it began to become fatigued in the Hawthorn Mews housing estate in Dublin Hill.
According to witnesses, the drivers took the harness off the horse and left it to die, leaving with their equipment.
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Thomas Gould said people already had major concerns about the care of horses during the cold spell and this latest incident needed a full investigation.
“Last year there was a major round up and something similar needs to be done.”
“Every day there is sulky racing taking place in Cork. Up in Ballyhooley Road, Kilmore Road, Mahon, and the Straight Road,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn described it as “revolting behaviour by anybody’s standards”.
“I believe at this stage that we need a full assault on the individuals that are causing the problem. People putting up their hands and saying they don’t know anything about it and it’s not their animal is not acceptable.
“Cork City Council needs to penalise those who are treating animals in an appalling condition and we need to introduce sulky bylaws, the same as Kilkenny, to ban it from our streets and take those animals into care.”
County Councillor Ger Keohane also described the incident as “barbaric and beyond cruel”.
“That animal must have suffered and gone through stress, hurt and torture right up until its last breath. For someone to just unhook it and leave it there and discard it on the side of the road, as if it is nothing, is disgraceful.”
Workers’ Party Councillor Ted Tynan said it was an appalling incident.
“It was not a natural death. It was a young female horse. It is appalling treatment of an animal,” he said.
Mr Tynan said it reminded him of an issue he had battled with previously of horses left on the outskirts of Rathcooney to starve to death.
He called on the Department of Agriculture to step up and tackle the issue of animal mistreatment.
“I thought the legislation brought in in 2009 would help to curb this kind of behaviour and make people more accountable, but obviously it hasn’t worked.
“I am calling on the Department of Agriculture to get to work and deal with this issue.”
ISPCA inspector Lisa O’Donovan said she has noticed a trend of young people carrying out these acts of cruelty and described it as a scary phenomenon.
“It is not acceptable that you have young kids going out there driving a horse into the ground and then just walking away,” she said.
“A few people said to me that they were laughing as they went which I think is even more horrifying. There is no remorse, guilt. The horse is of no more value to them than anything else.
“What way are these kids being brought up? What moral values, what ethical values are being instilled in these children from their parents? This behaviour begins at home,” added Ms O’Donovan.
She has called on the public to report incidents of animal cruelty and to hand over any information they may have on the incident in Hawthorn Mews estate to the authorities.
“We need the public to be vigilant and we need the public to stand up and say: ‘look this isn’t on, this isn’t going to be accepted’.
“Someone out there who saw this knows who these people are.
“People have mobile phones — there could be video footage of it. There could be someone who had photographs of the people involved and we ask them to either report it, either go to the gardaí or contact us, send the information to us.
“It’s all confidential,” said Inspector O’Donovan.
Local resident Noreen Murphy said she and other residents were in shock at the severe cruelty that was displayed by the sulky drivers.
Ms Murphy said there are often horses being driven at speed around the area and it is a regular occurrence to have horses flogged and raced in the area.
“They seem to be training them for sulky races, driving them around at speed.”
Ms Murphy said more needs to be done to protect the horses.
“There needs to be more inspections and more control over animals. If you can’t look after animals, you shouldn’t have them. All it requires is a basic level of respect, not to be cruel.”
To contact the ISPCA helpline call 1890-515515 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org; there is a web form available online at: www.ispca.ie/contact_us. Mayfield Garda station can be contacted on 021-4558510.