Zero tolerance to animal cruelty - garda chief superintendent

Mary Cody

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Mary Cody

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mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie

Zero tolerance to animal cruelty - garda chief superintendent

The horse who drowned on Sunday

A garda investigation is underway following the discovery of a dead horse on the banks of the River Nore on Sunday afternoon.

Concerned passerbys and a local vet tried desperately to save the distressed animal who drowned despite efforts by the public to save its life.

A post mortem has taken place. Gardaí have also spoken to those who witnessed the incident and are continuing their investigation.

Sinead Gibbons said that she came across the horse and a man who 'was trying to pull its head above water for 20 minutes before we came along' on the Linear Walk on the outskirts of the city.

"As freezing cold as the water was, I hopped in and was able to get the poor baby's head above water.

"He was still alive at this stage but barely.

"It took eight of us to get him out including a gentleman who got into the freezing cold river with me to push him from behind," she said in a Facebook post.

The shocking incident has caused outrage locally and nationally.

Superintendent Dominic Hayes said that gardaí have a 'zero tolerance approach' towards animal cruelty.

He also told the Kilkenny People that the gardaí are working with the Department of Agriculture and the Kilkenny County Council to reduce the number of horses in the city environs.

“We are working towards reducing the number of horses that the Travelling Community has and also want to make it clear that all horses have to be chipped by law. Otherwise they will be seized,” he said.

“The Horse Project, facilitated by Pavee Point (an organisation which campaigns for Traveller rights) have been very helpful in improving husbandry, reducing numbers and getting the horses chipped.”

“We have a track record in prosecuting in regard to animal cruelty and 29 horses remain well taken care of and in the care of the State after been seized last year over concerns for their welfare,” he added.

Cllr Andrew McGuinness who successfully campaigned for a ban on sulky racing said that the 'level of cruelty seen in Kilkenny in recent years is intolerable'.

“We have made huge efforts to stop this with horse projects, the provision of land with facilities for horses, new bye laws and so on, and still incidents as grotesque as this happen,” he said.

The Board of Kilkenny SPCA have also issued a statement in relation to the incident and outlined how no member of the public contacted the organisation directly in relation to this incident. They stated that three calls were logged at but no messages were left. All recorded messages are automatically transferred to our officers mobile number in real time.

“We were first made aware by a local vet at 14.41 and were given the contact details of a person present at the incident, we contacted this person at 14.49 and gave advice over the phone, and informed that person that a vet was in transit to the incident,” the statement said.

Calls for improved measures to be implemented in relation to horse welfare will be raised both nationally in the Dáil and locally at countil level.

Deputy John McGuinness is calling on the Minister to impose an age restrictionon those who operate horse drawn vehicles. He is also calling for a roadworthy test similar to an NCT that prioritises road safety and animal welfare, a license/registration requirement and full compliance with existing laws including horse license, micro chipping and our own sulky racing bye laws .

Cllr Andrew McGuinness has also submitted the proposal to Kilkenny County Council and is also calling for a meeting with gardai to assess the impact of the sulky racing bye laws created by us in 2015.

“Kilkenny County Council should in conjunction with the gardai remove every horse that has no license or looks malnourished or uncared for, and do so immediately in one big sweep .

"I would also appeal to land owners to stop allowing their land to be used to keep horses if they are suspicious that the horse may be used in sulky racing and to report it immediately,” he added.

Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that he was' satisfied that appropriate action was taken by both the gardai and local authority in this matter. “We should await the outcome of the Garda investigation which I am sure will establish the facts behind this very distressing incident, “ he said.

I am satisfied that appropriate action was taken by both the Gardai and Local Authority in this matter. We should await the outcome of the Garda investigation which I am sure will establish the facts behind this very distressing incident'.

Last month two horses were found dead and abandoned on lands close to the Hebron Road. There remains were emaciated and frozen.