Abandoned horse problem ‘astronomical’

Testing  a sample of minced meat   for horse meat in the food control laboratory institute Eurofins in Ebersber near Munich. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Testing a sample of minced meat for horse meat in the food control laboratory institute Eurofins in Ebersber near Munich. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 22:18

The ISPCA believes stricter controls on factories accep- ting horse meat is worsening Ireland’s already “astronomical” problem of abandoned horses.

Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief inspector Conor Dowling said 24,000 horses were slaughtered for meat in Ireland last year but the figure this year “is around 8,000”.

“There are a lot of horses out there and their only value is meat,” Mr Dowling said. “There are far too many horses in this country and we need to reduce the numbers.

“There is a huge number of animals that were being kept by people to go into the factories.” The ISPCA is concerned about the number of these horses who may not be in compliance. This is due to pre-clearance passport checks and other measures introduced by the Department of Agriculture in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

Due to a lack of resources, the ISPCA could only take in the worst equine welfare cases, Mr Dowling added. “We are just absolutely swamped and the problem is just astronomical and next winter we see it being worse.”

While he did not want horses put down, Mr Dowling did not see any alternative. “We really need to look to the top, to the government as a whole to recognise the problem. Our reputation is taking a bit of a hammering over this.”