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Minister Smith Awards €1.25 million in funding to 110 Animal Welfare Organisations

Minister Smith Awards €1.25 million in funding to 110 Animal Welfare Organisations

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith T.D., today announced details of ex-gratia payments totalling €1.25m to 110 organisations involved in the direct delivery of animal care and welfare services to assist in their work during 2009. Minister Smith said that he was pleased to be able to support these largely voluntary bodies in their work in delivering animal welfare services. The payments to be made immediately will, the Minister said, "assist the greatest number of animal welfare organisations in any year since the Department commenced making ex-gratia payments in 1995".

The Minister, paying tribute to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and the other animal welfare bodies operating throughout the country in both urban and rural areas, during a visit to the headquarters of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that "these bodies do marvellous work in rescuing, rehabilitating and providing new homes for neglected animals". While recognising that the funds do not cover the full costs incurred in meeting all the demands placed upon them, the Minister reminded people that "these welfare organisations which play such a vital role in animal welfare, particularly with regard to small animals still require the ongoing generous financial support from the general public to enable them fulfil their work to promote animal welfare and relieve animal suffering in Ireland."

The Minister thanked the organisations particularly for their efforts and the sacrifices made by them in circumstances that are often difficult. He went on to say that "it often falls to the welfare organisations to deal with the emergency situations arising from abandoned animals and we are fortunate in Ireland to have the ISPCA and the other voluntary organisations with their many dedicated members who work tirelessly throughout the country in the interests of animal welfare."

The Minister said that today's announcement of funding for animal welfare organisations in the current economic climate is evidence of the Government's commitment in the area of animal welfare. He added that significant progress was being made in his Department in drafting the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which aims to promote the highest standards of animal welfare together with providing for significant increases in the penalties for offenders. The Minister wished to avail of this opportunity to "thank all those organisations and individuals who made submissions on the Bill on foot of the consultation process initiated by him earlier in the year." Submissions were received from a wide range of groups/individuals with a stake in animal health and welfare issues and Department officials are currently meeting with a number of those that contributed to the process to provide them with an opportunity to expand on their submissions, after which drafting of the legislation will be completed, having regard to the submissions.

In conclusion, the Minister repeated the old axiom that "a pet is for life, not just for Christmas". Minister Smith appealed to parents and others to think responsibly when considering giving a pet as a Christmas present because taking ownership of a pet comes with a responsibility and a duty of care to the animal and the Minister went on to say that "the number of animals that are abandoned every year as soon as the Christmas novelty has worn off does indicate that people are not giving due consideration to the commitment that is required in owning an animal." The Minister urged people to heed the warnings and advice offered by the animal welfare organisations in this regard.

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