Written answers

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Animal Welfare

Photo of Cathal CroweCathal Crowe (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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44. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he plans to introduce stricter legislation to ensure high levels of horse welfare. [38183/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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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. The Department has primary policy responsibility for the welfare of all animals, including equines.

The Act places clear obligations on owners to look after animals under their care. Neglect of, or causing unnecessary suffering to, animals is not acceptable and the 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.

In summary, the current modern legislative framework provided by the Act is considered fit for purpose - in respect of horses as well as other animals Similarly, enforcement of the existing legislation has been working satisfactorily, and is kept under review with a view to ongoing improvements as needed.

The Programme for Government specifically commits to the continued robust enforcement of the Act, and officials are committed to engaging positively with stakeholders including owners, keepers and community groups to educate, encourage and empower those responsible for animals to ensure their welfare, addressing issues before enforcement action is needed.

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.


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