File picture: Sulky in use in Kilkenny
A zero-tolerance approach is needed to crack down on animal cruelty in Kilkenny, local councillors have said - and a new committee will be established next week to spearhead the effort.
City-based councillors have been highlighting what they say is an increase in cruelty incidents here in recent months. At the recent July meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District, Cllr Eugene McGuinness said he was “tired of the carrot being used and not the stick”.
Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Andrew McGuinness has said that many of the regulations required to tackle the issues are already in place; they must now be fully enforced.
Cathaoirleach McGuinness originally called for the animal welfare committee to be set up, and championed bylaws outlawing sulky racing on public roads and to create ‘horse-free zones’ in the city. He said the abuse of animals and flouting of laws was happening ‘in broad daylight, right in front of us’.
“What we are calling for is for everything we have done so far to be enacted upon with a zero-tolerance approach,” he said.
“I accept it’s a really difficult thing. It will take a united approach between the council, the members, the gardaí and all of the agencies involved. I hope that with the creation of this new animal welfare committee, we will be able to oversee all of those things, and hopefully progress it properly.”
The committee is to comprise six councillors and five representatives from animal organisations.
Further referring to existing regulations, Cllr Eugene McGuinness said that the local authority housing rules stipulate that tenants are restricted by the number of animals they can have in their residence.
“We have it in our power that there is only two animals in a house – can we strictly enforce that where there is cruelty taking place?” he asked.
Cllr A McGuinness said that as the chair of the housing SPC at the time, he had proposed both the regulation to limit animals to two to a house, and to define a pet not to include horses.
Mayor Coonan said the issue of animal cruelty was no restricted to certain sites ‘but on the streets as well’: “It is really frightening,” he said.
“Local government needs to be given the wherewithal to address this matter, because it is increasing.”
Responding to comments, council director of services Tim Butler said animal cruelty was something that ‘we should all oppose and do what we can to eliminate’. He said a number of dogs had been seized and a total of 45 horses had been seized or surrendered so far this year.
“We can’t stop indiscriminate breeding on those sites, but we can try to remove the animals,” he said.
Mr Butler noted there had been other challenges to date, including the dog shelter being closed for many weeks during restrictions.
“I don’t want anyone to think the executive aren't doing their job,” he said.
Cllr A McGuinness agreed that was not the case, and he wanted to publicly thank the executive for their work.
“You are as frustrated as we are,” he said.
Mayor Coonan said no one was saying the executive wasn’t doing its job, and Cllr E McGuinness agreed and said that council staff were working extra hard, but more money, resources and personnel needed to be allocated to the issue.