Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (593, 598)

Michelle Mulherin


593. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the minimum time required for a local authority to keep a horse before putting it down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31606/13]

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Michelle Mulherin


598. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of abandoned horses that have been put down in each of the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; the cost of putting down a horse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31658/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 598 together.

Matters relating to stray or abandoned horses in urban and rural areas come within the scope of the Control of Horses Act, 1996 under which Local Authorities have been given extensive powers. These powers include the making of bye-laws for the control and welfare of horses in the local authorities’ functional area, together with provisions on licensing of horses within control areas and seizure and detention of stray or abandoned horses.

My Department agreed a protocol with Local Authorities in 2012 which outlined the need for greater uniformity in how Local Authorities apply the Control of Horses Act in their respective areas with a view to achieving savings and efficiencies in implementation of the Act. The protocol recommended that all local authorities amend their bye-laws to allow persons five days to reclaim their horse(s) and, if not reclaimed within that period, the Local Authority should be permitted to re-home or euthanize the animal. The reasoning behind the five day retention was to reduce costs but also to emphasise to individuals who abandon or allow their horses to stray that animal welfare depends on frequent human attention and animals should be inspected frequently to avoid suffering. In my view, responsibility for ensuring that horses do not stray rests with their owners and owners who do not reclaim their horses within 5 days cannot be considered to be responsible owners.

My Department provides extensive funding to assist Local Authorities in control of horses operations. Some Local Authorities operate their own Pounds and others engage private contractors to carry out control of horse activities which sometimes involves humane disposal of horses. In view of this, it is not possible to determine an exact cost for euthanizing per horse, as veterinary expenses, transport etc differ between local authorities.

The table, which is based on the information provided to me by local authorities – shows the number of horses seized and euthanazed under the Control of Horses Act in the period 2008 – 2012.


Horses Seized

Horses Euthanazed