DONEGAL has accounted for more than one third of calls to the Irish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) this year to help 27 horse and 16 donkeys. Donegal County Council dealt with a further 13 equines found abandoned, straying or dumped bringing the total for the county to 56.
The numbers of horses and donkeys having to be rehoused or removed in Donegal last year was 147, up by 32 on the previous year.
The figures were revealed by the ISPCA Inspector in Donegal Mr Kevin McGinley as the organisation called on owners to “hold your horses” in a bid to tackle an equine over-population crisis.
Mr McGinley explained that too many owners were allowing their horses to breed, with the result that the country was being flooded with low value foals.
With no market for them, many of these animals are abandoned, seriously neglected or acquired by people without the adequate knowledge or means to properly care for them.
Mr McGinley expects the problem to get worse as winter draws in and there is no grass of the horse or donkeys to eat.
Speaking to the Donegal News, he said it was irresponsible for owners to allow horses to breed where they are not wanted.
“We have been called to equines all over the county – Ballintra, Letterkenny, Ballybofey, Raphoe, Fanad, Drumkeen, Glenties and Gweedore.
“When there is no grass for them in the winter months their welfare becomes compromised. People then have a choice to make between asking the vet for attention or dumping the animal and unfortunately dumping is the easiest option. I would expect the figures to continue to rise here in County Donegal,” Mr McGinley added.
The number of call-outs he receives about equines grows dramatically between November and April and so far this year he has had 75 calls.
He cited the example of badly neglected thoroughbred horse ‘Forest Jewel’ a once valuable horse which he had to intervene to protect in the Lifford area.
“| would urge owners to take measures now and ensure their horses do not breed unwanted foals.
“The country is now flooded with low value foals. With no market for them, many of these animals are abandoned, seriously neglected or acquired by people without the adequate knowledge or means to properly care for them. In worst case scenarios unwanted horses are being brutally abused and mistreated,” Mr McGinley added.
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