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Cruelty and Neglect of Horses "Regrettable and Unacceptable" - Minister Smith

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today described as "regrettable and unacceptable" the increasing number of cases of cruelty and neglect of horses in Ireland.

Minister Smith was speaking at the official opening of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Expo 2010 and commended the thoroughbred industry for its commitment to education and the provision of advice on good husbandry and the welfare of the horse and he acknowledged "the continuing high standards being maintained by the majority of Irish horse owners."

However, the Minister emphasised that owners have the primary responsibility for the welfare of their animals and pointed out that "local authorities, to which my Department provide annual funding of €2 million, have extensive powers available to them under the Control of Horses Acts." The Minister said that it was "important that all those involved with horses fully understood their responsibilities."

The Minister also paid tribute to the work being done by voluntary organisations involved in the delivery of animal care and welfare throughout the country, often in quite difficult and distressing conditions. Last year, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food contributed €1.185 million to animal welfare organisations. Minister Smith said he looked forward to the continuing co-operation of all groups involved in horse welfare and expressed confidence that they would continue to work closely in the future.

Minister Smith said that his Department worked closely with those groups to identify and intervene in potential welfare cases, particularly through the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Group. The Minister also said that his officials had been involved in a number of recent incidents of equine cruelty or neglect, including a case involving a number of horses as recently as this week.

Date Released: 29 January 2010