GSPCA getting two calls a day about starving horses

Nearly 200 dogs and cats in need of good home, says charity

The Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been receiving on average two calls a day regarding abandoned, starving, and neglected horses throughout the county.

The severe weather conditions, coupled with the downturn in the economy, has meant that many horses have been left abandoned in isolated bogs and mountainous areas and the GSPCA have been inundated in recent weeks with calls from concerned members of the public. The extent of the problem has also been highlighted by Galway Bay FM presenter Valerie Hughes who, after witnessing dozens of starving horses along the Headford Road, initiated a campaign to get feed out to them.

Spokesperson for the GSPCA Margaret O’Sullivan said that the animal charity has been receiving two calls a day and that these reports have been passed on to Ms Hughes so that hay and other feed can get out to the horses as soon as possible.

“Passers-by spotted the horses out in fields and bogs without any feed and some of them were very thin. We’ve been trying to get hay out to them and Valerie has a contact to get feed. She’s having a fantastic go at it and the response has been great. We are really lucky Valerie decided to take this on. There are horses at the moment being fed along the Headford Road, Ballinasloe, and Inverin and there are people on standby willing to get feed out there. We’re getting a great response but we need more people out in the Connemara and Tuam areas.

Ms O’Sullivan said that there has been a “glut” of horses in trouble in recent weeks and that there are incidences of this type of cruelty all over the county. The GSPCA are facing many problems in tackling the issue as there is often no information on who owns the animals. There has also been a surge in horses left abandoned since the downturn in the economy.

“Anyone can have a horse but not necessarily know enough or don’t even care about how to properly look after the animal. A horse during the Celtic Tiger was a big thing but now the owners are unable to take care of it properly and think that it is OK to just leave the horse out there and it will survive, but it needs dry food. If a horse gets thin it can take the guts of a year to get it back into good condition. If left for too long it won’t recover. We know that there are some people out there that simply don’t have the means to properly care for their animals but there are others that just won’t take care of them, and that’s the sickening part of it,” she said.

The GSPCA are also struggling to keep up with the numbers of cats and dogs that are in need of rescuing and rehoming. Ms O’Sullivan explained that the numbers of animals coming into the charity are “definitely up” from last year and that in the last week alone five dogs and three cats were brought in.

“Between our three places, two catteries and one kennel, there are 150 to 200 dogs and cats to look after. For every dog we rehome we take in on average five. We are a no kill sanctuary, no animal dies to make room for another. We strive to make sure they go to a good home, we have to be stringent about that as these are rescue animals. It used to be a case that there was a surge in reports during Christmas but now it is all year round.

“The GSPCA have a major problem financially and we rely on donations and fund raising. It costs €18,000 to €20,000 a month to keep the animals, there are also costs with mortgage, rent, fuel, feed, and vet bills. We have so many animals in need of a good home. The downturn has affected donations as people don’t have the money, but we are appealing for the public to give anything they can spare to help us in our work,” she said.

The GSPCA are appealing for the public for donations which can been made online by logging onto or by dropping in to the shop in Augustine Street with money donations or goods that can be sold on. The charity is also calling on those considering getting a dog or cat to consider giving a rescue animal a good home.


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