An animal welfare charity was so moved by the shocking condition of rescued horses they were asked to assist with that they have donated a special hand-held micro-chip scanner to Tipperary gardaí.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March, gardaí have been called to deal with a number of horses nationwide after the animals were effectively abandoned by their owners. The horses were starved, had serious skin infections and many had signs of being mistreated.
In one case, a young horse was so emaciated that its bones were visible through its skin. In the case of another horse, the animal had been ridden at speed despite the fact it was visibly injured.
Because most horse fairs have been cancelled due to the pandemic, the number of horses and ponies being abandoned has soared nationwide.
Munster counties including Cork, Limerick and Tipperary have witnessed some of the worst instances of animal cruelty.
There are also fears some owners, whose incomes have been hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, have effectively abandoned animals simply because they consider them too expensive to feed.
Gardaí rely on the support of animal welfare charities in handling such cases of equine cruelty – and the Cork-based My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) were critical to a number of rescues across Munster.
Now, MLHR has decided to assist gardaí with the donation of a special hand-held micro-chip scanner to promote horse identification and owner tracing.
They also donated two special head collars and a lead rope to assist gardaí in dealing with future horse rescues in the Tipperary area.
Garda Shane Kiely accepted the donations on behalf of Tipperary gardaí.
“Our hope is that we won’t have to use them too often,” he said. “Thanks to the staff at My Lovely Horse Rescue in Cork for the donations and their assistance.”
The public have also been asked to report all incidents of suspected animal cruelty to either the gardaí or their local animal welfare charity.
Gardaí have also been dealing with a surge in dog thefts around Ireland. Stolen animals have been seized in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Tipperary – with fears that many are being stolen for use in so-called puppy farms.
Micro-chipping to allow for the identification of animals and the tracing of owners is seen as critical to fighting the dog-nappers.