THIRTY-FOUR horses have been ‘put down’ by Cork City Council since the start of 2017, new figures have revealed.
According to figures released by the council, 27 horses were euthanised last year and seven have met the same fate in the first couple of months of 2018.
In 2017, four horses were released back to their owners, at a cost of €835 plus 23% VAT, and seven were rehomed.
The cost of reclaiming a horse includes passports, microchipping and vets fees.
The figures were revealed after concerns were raised this week about horse welfare in the city following an horrific incident in Dublin Hill on Tuesday.
A female horse was left to die in a housing estate after being ridden with a sulky cart by a number of young males.
The incident was condemned as “barbaric” by the ISPCA and public representatives.
Local Sinn Féin councillor, Thomas Gould, said the number of horses being ‘put down’ each year was an absolute disgrace and he called for better enforcement of the legislation which requires horses to be microchipped and passported.
Mr Gould said accountability has to be increased to ensure the welfare of these animals.
“Of the 27 horses euthanised last year, someone had to own them. It goes back to the tracing of horses and the proper licensing and management of horses,” he said.
“People should not be allowed to keep a horse without any traceability. There are serious questions to be asked of the Department of Agriculture. We couldn’t do this with cows,” he added.
“All Irish cattle are traced from dirt to death. It should be similar for horses. When a horse is born it should be tagged so if the Gardaí pick them up or they are impounded they should be able to trace the original owner of the horse. I think this is the only way we are going to prevent the mistreatment of horses.”
Hammering home his point Mr Gould said: “There is no accountability. If a person has mistreated a horse, there should be legal action, the Gardaí should be involved.
“If you don’t have traceability, you are going to continue to let this go on. Until there are deterrents there for the owners of horses, this will continue. Make the owner accountable.”
The councillor said he believed enforcing the legislation that requires all horses to be microchipped and passported would lead to a reduction in the number of animal cruelty cases and horses impounded by the local authority.
“I think if that system was enforced, with all newborn horses tagged this year, you would see a major reduction straight away.”