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National Equine Welfare Crisis Worsens

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is warning that the equine welfare crisis gripping the entire country has escalated to levels that have rocked the charity and left it struggling to cope with the volumes of equines needing its assistance.

The organisation took 22 equines into care within a 48 hour period this week from locations as diverse as Donegal, Cork, Westmeath and Carlow. This brought the total number of equines rescued by the ISPCA in the past two weeks to 30. Many of these animals require long term and costly rehabilitation.

But these animals were the lucky ones, many others are not so fortunate. The call sometimes comes too late and ISPCA Inspectors are discovering dead horses on an almost daily basis.

Sometimes it is all an Inspector can do to organise a swift and humane death for an animal, something Inspector Lisa O’Donovan was forced to do on successive days this week in Cork. ISPCA officials have so far this year arranged the euthanasia of several equines which were too far gone to help.

Since the organisation is so stretched dealing with the most needy of cases where horses are in immediate danger, it is being forced to leave other animals in conditions that would not normally be considered acceptable.

In addition to putting enormous pressure on the extremely limited resources of a charity this situation is placing an emotional and psychological burden on the staff trying to cope with the demands.

ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling said “We are really only fire-fighting, trying to address the most serious situations. Our Inspectors are trying in vain to keep on top of the volume of calls that they are receiving and must prioritise those that they think most urgent. I am aware any complaints which they have been unable to get to weigh heavy on their minds every evening”.

It is not only the society’s Inspectors that are affected. So many equines are being discovered in need of specialist treatment that equine care staff are inundated with requests for assistance. Organising transport and accommodation for these animals is becoming increasingly problematic.

“We cannot continue to take in equines at the rate we are currently” said Mr. Dowling, “it simply isn’t sustainable. Our facilities are already stocked well beyond their designed capacity”.

The ISPCA is calling on the government to take increased ownership of this massive problem which is threatening to damage the reputation of the Irish horse industry having already received worldwide coverage.

The charity is issuing an urgent appeal for donations to allow it to continue its valuable work.  Please log onto the ISPCA website to make a secure online donation http://www.ispca.ie. Thank you.

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