Simon Coveney and animal welfare

 

Sir, – My stomach turned listening to RTE’s Primetime interview with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney on the subject of horse welfare. But it wasn’t just the thought of all those abandoned horses that sickened me, heartrending though their plight is: untold numbers have starved to death, been ill-treated or been rescued in a pitiful, emaciated condition.

It was also the Minister’s professed concern for the welfare of animals generally and his boast that the new Animal Health and Welfare Act has greatly advanced the fight against animal cruelty. He spoke of his determination to alleviate the suffering of animals that are “welfare-compromised”. Yet this is the same Minister who specifically exempted hare-coursing and fox-hunting from prohibition under the Act.

Instead of protecting the fox and the hare from cruelty, the legislation fully permits the live baiting of these animals for “sport”.

Can the Minister not see, or accept, that a wild dog being hounded until its lungs give out and exhaustion delivers it to a pack of hounds to be eviscerated is “welfare-compromised”? And could this euphemism not also be applied to a hare that is terrorised, mauled and tossed about by dogs like a paper toy for the amusement of a crowd of gamblers and sightseers?

The welfare of a fox or fox cub that is dragged from its underground refuge with the aid of spades, terriers, and poles wrapped with barbed wire is certainly compromised, whatever about claims that the hunt “dig-out” is part of a proud rural tradition.

Instead of a horse cull, I suggest a (non-lethal) culling of politicians who claim to love animals while refusing to legislate against some of the worst animal cruelty practices on the planet. Yours, etc,

JOHN FITZGERALD

Campaign for the Abolition

Of Cruel Sports,

Lower Coyne Street,

Callan,

Co Kilkenny