Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides a modern framework for applying standards in the area of animal health and welfare and replaced a number of enactments dating back over a century. Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013, the Department has primary policy responsibility for the welfare of all animals, including equines.
The Act puts clear obligations on owners to look after animals under their care. Neglect of, or causing unnecessary suffering to, animals is not acceptable and my Department continues to enforce the law in this important area.
Prosecutions under the Act have been pursued following investigations by authorised officers of the Department, An Garda Síochána and authorised officers of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These officers investigate matters relating to animal cruelty and neglect and, where the evidence supports such action, a file prepared and the matter pursued through the Courts.
The Department works closely with these bodies and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved for their work in the field of animal welfare.
The Programme for Government (PFG) places a positive emphasis on animal welfare and specifically commits to the continued robust enforcement of the Act.
Also included in the PFG is a commitment to provide for additional urban horse welfare programmes. The Department continues to take a proactive approach in tackling challenges by developing facilities for urban horse populations and in educating young people among these communities in the care and welfare of horses. This work is carried out in close collaboration with the Local Authorities, and is reflected in the new Animal Welfare Strategy 2021-2025.
The Department continues to support a number of urban horse projects nationwide, bringing education on all aspects of equine welfare to people in disadvantaged areas. As an example, the DSPCA with financial assistance from the Department, continues to facilitate castration and ID clinics and education programmes in an effort to address the problem of over-breeding which can add to welfare issues.
The Programme for Government also contains an undertaking to provide additional funding to support animal welfare in the coming years to which I am fully committed. In this regard, in December 2020, I announced record funding of €3.2 million to 101 animal welfare organisations throughout the country including those engaged in equine welfare.
The Control of Horses Act, 1996 is currently under review within the Department and plans for replacement legislation are well advanced. The Department will be further engaging on this with stakeholders. Under the Act, Local Authorities may take a range of actions in relation to equines including prohibiting horses in certain areas, the issuing of licences, the seizure of horses in contravention of the Act. These powers can be used in respect of straying horses which includes horses put on land without the owner’s permission, including public land. The Local Authorities and An Garda Síochána may also prosecute offenders under this Act.
Work is underway within the Department to undertake a national equine census by the end of this year. This will establish the number of equines in the country and the residences at which they habitually reside. Further development of a central database to provide for the easy updating of equine residence data is also planned for 2021.
The Deputy will be aware that the Department operates a confidential animal welfare helpline through which members of the public can report incidents of animal cruelty or neglect for investigation.
The dedicated e-mail address and Helpline in place for reporting suspected cases of animal welfare are:
Helpline Phone No: Call Save - 0761 064408, phone - 01 607 2379.
Email address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Under the Control of Horses Act 1996, Local Authorities may take a range of actions in relation to equines including prohibiting horses in certain areas, the issuing of licenses and the seizure of horses in contravention of the Act. These powers can be used in respect of straying horses which includes horses put on land without the owner’s permission, including public land.
Figures for seizures under the Act in Cork City and County, as reported to this Department, are as follows:
|Cork Co. Council||2020||35|
|Cork City Council||2020||12|
|Cork Co. Council||2019||75|
|Cork City Council||2019||23|
|Cork Co. Council||2018||63|
|Cork City Council||2018||33|
|Cork Co. Council||2017||87|
|Cork City Council||2017||39|
|Cork Co. Council||2016||91|
|Cork City Council||2016||47|
|Cork Co. Council||2015||155|
|Cork City Council||2015||54|