“THE worst form of cruelty” was how a local woman described the treatment of three horses which are said to have starved to death in Ballinruan.
Its understood that two of the horses she was referring to died some time ago, while the third one died relatively recently.
The woman said, “It was shocking, it would have taken them a few months to die and they would have been in agony. They hadn’t had a pick to eat and it’s happening every winter; someone keeps putting the horses in the same place.
“They obviously weren’t getting a scrap of hay and they would have had a horrible death. The cold weather probably just finished them off.”
She said it has been a big topic of discussion in the area lately. “A lot of people are talking about it and they are disgusted by it.”
The woman also said that a foal was one of the dead animals. “One of the ones that died was a foal that was born in the summer time, he had no chance. The mother probably hadn’t milk for him so he died away.”
She said she had spoken to both the gardaí and the ISPCA about the issue. She also said that other horses have been starved in the same area over the last number of years.
Sheena Twist, of Burren Animal Rescue, said that the mistreatment of horses is a serious issue in Clare.
“There has been no let up since the recession started. At the moment there are 34 rescues in and resources are stretched. Every year, from this time, there is nothing left on the ground and it’s unfortunate that all the new regulations that were brought in by the Department don’t seem to be effective.”
Ms Twist said that quite often people don’t realise that horses are in a bad condition quite nearby.
“There might be a horse dying three fields over and you wouldn’t know about it. It’s so easy to put a horse into a field and walk away from it. If the microchipping could be enforced more you’d be able to trace the owners and that alone would put people off dumping them, if they were afraid of getting caught they wouldn’t do it.”
She said that people who find they can’t afford to feed horses do have options and can get in touch with organisations such as her own, or the Department of Agriculture or the ISPCA.
“The sooner they make a call the sooner help can be sent; there are options. If you put your hand up and say I can’t feed these, that’s better than being found guilty of cruelty. If you admit there’s a problem you can do something about it.”
Frankie Coote, ISPCA officer for Clare, said that 14 corpses of horse were removed last year from different parts of Clare. He also said he was liaising with gardaí regarding the situation in Ballinruan.
Also in Ballinruan, two horses have been roaming on the roads recently, causing some local concern regarding traffic safety, particularly as road conditions have been hazardous due to frost.