By Oisin Cusack
A young horse was found dead with its ankles tied after being dumped outside a gate in Meeneen, Galway, this week.
The dumping of animals is not an uncommon practice in Galway and Aoife McKenna, a spokesperson for the animal welfare organisation My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR), is not surprised by the incident.
“It is not the first time we have seen such an incident. We have seen this on numerous occasions where horses are dumped at gates of forestry or boglands so I’m not one bit surprised sadly,” she said.
While it is not known if the animal was alive or dead when it was dumped, Ms. McKenna and MLHR are pretty confident about how these dumping’s take place.
“What we suspect happened in this case and in other cases is that the animal has firstly died. The people then tie the legs of the animal together with rope and tie the other end to the gate at the location they leave it at.
They just drive off then and it is just an easy way for them to pull the poor horse out of the horsebox or van,” she said.
MLHR were established in 2011 with the aims of ending indiscriminate breeding and enforcing equine and welfare laws.
“We now have about 50 volunteers and three employees to look after animals in our care. There is a huge amount of work involved between microchipping, farrier work, gelding and handling. We all have our own jobs so we are doing this all in our spare time,” she said.
On what can be done to minimise horse dumping’s, Ms. McKenna says that the microchipping of horses needs to be policed more.
“Every horse is meant to be identified with a microchip and a passport but in Ireland this isn’t proactively enforced. Where as all cattle in Ireland are under a database, we just don’t have the same system for horses,” she said.
“Obviously, horse owners don’t want their horses’ ears tagged but we even have a problem where even those who are microchipped aren’t registered properly so the horses can’t be traced back to anyone.”
Ms. McKenna and MLHR are also lobbying for Gardai in Ireland to have at least one guard in each area with experience in enforcing legislation around equines.
“If you had one guard in each district with experience around the issue it could really improve enforcement and deter people from keeping horses without identification. We would have much greater accountability then,” she said.
While dumpings are still a common occurrence in Ireland, Ms. McKenna is hoping things will soon change.
“Hopefully one day we will have a system where horses are chipped and there is more proactive investigation. This would prevent more poor horses like this one in Galway from being dumped,” she said.
Have you read: Street safety remains a concern for women in Galway.