The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has hit out at the practice of sulky racing, saying that it seriously endangers both people and the animals involved.
Inspector Noel O’ Donoghue of the Kilkenny SPCA says that he is aware that the racing does occur in Kilkenny, but that it is difficult to catch offenders when races are taking place.
Last year, a legal sulky race was held in Kilkenny to raise funds for the Amber Kilkenny Womens’ Refuge. The race was organised with the support of the Gardai, as well as notification to members of the public.
Public attention is currently focused on sulky racing, following a video of an illegal race in Cork posted on the internet last week. However, the ISPCA says that this is not a new phenomenon, and that while nobody was injured during that particular race, the animals are not always so lucky. The animal welfare charity has come to the aid of many ponies injured as a result of trotting on hard surfaces.
“The risks to the animals involved in these races are great,” said ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling.
“The ponies are travelling at high speeds and if they collide with anything or simply stumble and fall, the results can be devastating.”
The ISPCA says it has found a number of ponies that have been abandoned after sustaining substantial injuries while trotting. While races such as that shown in the video are obviously dangerous, the risks to the animals involved are not confined to the races themselves.
“Accidents can quite easily occur during the training of these ponies and horses also and the consequences are no less severe,”. said Inspector Dowling.
“In addition, the joints of the animals take a pounding when trotting on hard surfaces which can cause permanent damage, particularly when young ponies and horses are involved.”