Equestrian charities in Ireland are among the 112 animal care and welfare organisation to benefit from grants totalling €1.185million.

The Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has awarded the grants largely to voluntary organisations to help their work in aid of animal welfare.

Equine charities to benefit include The Irish Horse Welfare Trust, which received €20,000, The Equus Foundation, which received €3,000 and The Donkey Sanctuary, which received €50,000.

Animal welfare in Ireland was in the spotlight earlier this year, when the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) announced its expectation that many horses would die over the winter.

The charity warned that thousands of homeless and abandoned horses would starve to death over the winter, as more and more horses were set loose by owners struggling to cope in the recession.

“We have had a huge influx of animals this year– treble the amount than last year,” Paddy Barrett, public relations manager of The Donkey Sanctuary, told H&H. “It is undoubtedly due to the recession as it is costly to feed and geld the animals, and they have gone down in value.”

“We submit an application for this fund every year, and we have received steadily increasing amounts for ten years,” continued Paddy, “but we are very surprised and absolutely delighted to receive such an amount in these recessionary times.

“The fund will contribute to veterinary care, and will also help educate people about the care of donkeys and mules.”

Brendan Smith TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, announced the payments during a visit to the Irish Blue Cross animal welfare charity in Dublin.

“While we are a nation of pet lovers and treat our animals with respect, instances of maltreatment do occur,” he said. “We are fortunate in Ireland to have an extensive range of welfare organisations actively delivering care, support and assistance to compromised animals.

“ I am confident that the money will be put to good use by the organisation in providing the best possible service towards animals in their care.”