Massive increase in numbers of horses seized in Ireland for welfare reasons recorded
WRITTEN BY ALISON HEALY
The number of horses slaughtered at licensed abattoirs more than halved last year as a result of the horse meat scandal, new figures from the Department of Agriculture show.
Some 24,363 horses were slaughtered in 2012, compared with 10,711 last year.
This follows the introduction of stricter regulations surrounding the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as well as a reduction in the number of plants accepting horses.
Previously, some plants were run by local authorities while others were run by the Department of Agriculture but since the controversy, the Department of Agriculture has taken over responsibility for the supervision of all horse abattoirs.
Before the horse meat scandal, it was believed that controls relating to horse identification were not strictly enforced and some horses were slaughtered for export for human consumption without having clean passports to show they were free from potentially harmful medication such as bute.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said controls had been strengthened in a number of ways. A new central equine database was being used to supplement checks carried out by department staff in slaughter plants.
Meanwhile, some 4,000 horses were seized by local authorities for animal welfare reasons last year, an increase of more than 1,100 on 2012.
Source: Dept of Agriculture
Horses have been abandoned in Ireland at an alarming rate since 2010 because of the economy, although irresponsible breeding practices cannot be ignored as a contributing factor.
At the Kerry Horse Sales, only nine of the 150 horses listed for auction were sold. An Irish horse dealer summed up the current situation succinctly:
“We need to go back to producing and breeding quality horses. Good horses still sell. But there are too many poor ones with no hope.”