Thousands of horses not microchipped in Dublin

Large numbers disappearing after DSPCA gets involved


Between 5,000 and 10,000 horses in the Dublin area have not been microchipped and their owners cannot be found when an issue arises, according to welfare campaigners.

The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA ) also said it had seen dozens of horses disappearing from an area after it became aware of their presence.

Not enforced
Microchipping of horses is mandatory but the society said it was clearly not being enforced. The recent horse meat crisis highlighted the lack of regulation regarding the movement of horses, but the society’s chief executive Brian Gillen said there had been concerns for years about the traceability of horses.

He said up to 1,000 horses seized in Dublin last year were found to have no microchips. “If there are that number of horses wandering around the place, how do you ensure that they don’t enter the food chain if someone wants to operate through a back door?

“We would say there are probably between 5,000 and 10,000 horses around Dublin today that are not microchipped and that are not spoken for. The owners are not coming forward when there is a problem. We can never find the owner of a horse.”

He also expressed concern about the disappearance of large numbers of horses, after the DSPCA had been alerted to their presence. “You might see 60 or 70 horses in an area and we’d go back three or four days later and [they] would have been moved somewhere else. We are wondering where they are going and what these movements of large volumes of horses is all about.”

The Department of Agriculture is now developing a centralised database of horses, to tighten equine controls. Mr Gillen said a lot of questions arose about the database. “Are they going to insist on compulsory microchipping? If an animal is not microchipped, what’s the consequence of that?” he asked.

He said photographs of horses should also be included and the introduction of an annual licence to keep horses should also be considered.