Concern is growing over the welfare of horses in Dublin after another horrific incident on a housing estate.

Last week a horse was mown down by a quad bike and reportedly beaten to death with a wooden plank in a council estate. The Gardai tried to intervene, but were deterred by locals throwing bottles at them.

Catherine Davey from local welfare group My Lovely Horse, who was called to the scene, said that the pound managed to extract this horse and 12 others from the estate at 4am, but the saga is ongoing.

The DSPCA’s Gillian Bird said that the “terrible problems” at Cherry Orchard were “nothing extraordinary”.

“We see cases like this all the time,’ said Ms Bird, who estimated that there are some 3,000 horses needing care in Dublin alone. “Things have to change — the (equine) population needs to be controlled.”

Dublin City Council confirmed that it hires a contractor to round up stray horses, under the Control of Horses Act, usually “very early in the morning to avoid conflict”. The horse is only released if a fee is paid to cover costs and microchipping — which rarely happens as this would exceed the horse’s value.

“Over 95% of the horses seized in Dublin are not claimed and have to be put down,” the council’s Paul Heffernan told H&H. “Several hundred were seized last year.”

Where abuse is concerned, the DSPCA and the Gardai step in.

The Gardai told H&H that it is “investigating these incidents on an ongoing basis”.

There are several welfare groups sprouting up to combat the problem, but the DSPCA cautioned that they may be infringing the law themselves.

irish horse without eye“They are not authorised to remove horses,” said Ms Bird. “They also need a permit for transportation — and are probably being inundated with too many horses as well, which doesn’t help the welfare issue.”

But Catherine Davey said that communities cannot pass the buck to overloaded and underfunded authorities. My Lovely Horse — a voluntary organisation set up by 4 friends — is paying for some 45 horses to take refuge in livery yards.

“If communities take responsibility we can make change,” she said.

The DSPCA is suggesting compulsory castration, birth control for mares or euthanasia in their efforts to resolve Dublin’s welfare issues. There is already microchipping and equestrian premise registration legislation in place, but little enforcement.

irish horse“Some people will not be happy,” said Ms Bird. “But we are at a peak in the crisis and something has to be done before it will get better.”