Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
646. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if all seizures of horses made under SI 62 of 2016, the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and the Control of Horses Act 1996 are included in the national horse seizure statistics figure; if not, his plans to ensure that all horse seizures are included in the national figure in view of the fact that, without the inclusion of same, the national horse figure provided is erroneous; if he will ensure that all of the legislation will be enforced in order to reduce and eliminate continuing and blatant disregard for the law on animal welfare in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44441/20]
My Department, in coherence with the Programme for Government, is fully committed to equine welfare and I can assure the Deputy that equine welfare is a priority for my Department.
These three distinct pieces of legislation are being enforced by the multiple agencies and bodies responsible.
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 is the primary legislative instrument that underpins the welfare of animals in the State. It is enforced by authorised officers from my Department, An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Irish Racehorse Regulatory Board. This multi-agency, frequently locally-led, approach is the most effective way of addressing animal welfare issues where animals, including horses, may be surrendered or perhaps occasionally seized. Seizures generally are used where no alternative mechanism is available to ensure the welfare of the animals concerned. While figures relating to seizures are maintained by the individual agencies and bodies involved, the system does not lend itself to the simple consolidation of national figures.
With regard to deficiencies with identification, the normal process is to serve notices requiring the owner/person-in-charge to rectify the situation - it is not usual practice to seize animals solely on the basis of a deficiency in identification.
Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the Control of Horses Act 1996, and comprehensive statistics on straying horses seized under the Act are freely available from my Department.