The discoveries of a dead Shetland pony and dead yearling foal at two separate sites in Ballybeg in recent days have illustrated the escalating incidences of reported animal cruelty in Waterford.
Speaking to The Munster Express, The Waterford Branch of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said that maltreatment of horses was unfortunately on the rise. And it’s set to get even worse.
“Horses are going to be a considerable problem come the spring in particular,” said WSPCA Welfare Officer Patricia Edwards.
“We don’t anticipate dealing with a glut of abandoned dogs after Christmas because parents are increasingly opting for gifts like PSPs – one-off payments which don’t come with the upkeep and further financing that comes with a dog, which you could be spending money on for years.”
But, striking a worrying note, Ms Edwards stated: “But the incidences of abandoned and malnourished horses, including foals and yearlings have been steadily increasing and, unfortunately, are set to increase further.”
How so and why? “I’m getting 10 to 12 calls a day at the moment and the vast majority of those relate to horses and cattle. The price of fodder is now outweighing the price of the animal, which still doesn’t excuse the way that many of the animals are being treated but that’s an unavoidable reality.
“When it comes to horses, lots of them are being left to fend for themselves on mountains and they won’t be taken off the mountains by their owners until the spring kicks in – if they survive the winter, that is.
“We’ve already taken quite a few stolen horses off the mountain as well, so I know where a lot my time in the New Year is going to be spent.”
The dead horses in Ballybeg come in the wake of horrific discoveries on South Kilkenny farmlands, which led to the putting down of 16 horses (some in foal) and 46 cattle.
The weekend before last, ISPCA officers encountered grisly scenes at farms at Knockmoylan, Mullinavat and Mullinabeg, a townland between Piltown and Hugginstown, both used by the same farmer.
Several dogs were found feeding on the carcass of a dead horse at Knockmoylan when the officers, along with Department of Agriculture personnel, arrived at the scene.
Patricia Edwards said the dead yearling at Ballybeg had been dragged to the location where its remains were discovered.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve come upon something like this, I’m afraid and the chances are it won’t be the last,” she said.
“These foals are being shoed, worked and put out on roads at far too young an age. They’re literally being dragged from under their mother. And rather than being broken in at two or two and a half, the people taking these foals are doing it a lot earlier and breaking the animal’s spirit.”
See The Munster Express newspaper for full story.