My Department devotes considerable resources to the area of animal welfare and, in particular, to the welfare of horses. In December 2013, I announced funding of €1.8m to 136 organisations involved in animal care and welfare services throughout the country to support their activities in 2014. The level of funding provided to the organisations was increased for the third year in a row, reflecting the importance I attach to their work. Increased funding was concentrated on organisations involved in horse welfare, including the DSPCA, to ensure sufficient resources are available to enable them cater for any difficulties arising in the area of horse welfare during 2014 and to assist them in complying with new legislation on equine identification and equine premises registration. The DSPCA received an amount of €210,000 (compared with €150,000 the previous year) to assist the society in its activities in 2014.
In addition to funding animal welfare bodies, my Department has very active engagement with local authorities and the Gardai on control of horses' issues. In 2013, my Department paid some €3.1m to the local authorities to assist them in their work under the Control of Horses Act, 1996 in dealing with stray, abandoned and unwanted horses. Of this, almost €568,000 was provided to the four local authorities in the Dublin area. This enabled the removal of in excess of 4,700 stray or unwanted horses last year (of which almost 840 seizures related to the Dublin county and city area). The removal of such a significant number of horses in the Dublin area has undoubtedly resolved a number of potentially serious horse welfare situations and has alleviated the burden on the animal welfare bodies, including the DSPCA, operating in the Dublin catchment area.
A further significant number of abandoned and welfare compromised horses have been removed since the beginning of this year. In addition to the ongoing work of local authorities in addressing horse welfare issues, my Department's veterinary officials continue to adopt a proactive approach in dealing with and addressing horse welfare issues, where appropriate in conjunction with the DSPCA and other animal welfare bodies and with local farming representatives and the local authorities.