The skeleton of a horse showing signs that the animal had been burnt while still alive was discovered near a playground during the summer, according to city councillor Terry O’Flaherty who along with fellow members of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee is calling for education initiatives to be set up and for gardai to be given more powers to react to reports of cruelty.
At Monday’s JPC meeting Cllr O’Flaherty once again raised the issue of horses being kept in the gardens of council houses. At a meeting held on April 15 Cllr O’Flaherty had queried the regulations in place governing the keeping of animals in this manner. A motion was put forward calling on the city council to implement within the city boundary the current EU regulation 504/2008 that came into force in 2009 which requires that all horses be properly micro chipped and have identification (passport ) within six months of their birth.
This week Cllr O’Flaherty said that when she contacts gardai about these issues they “can’t deal with it regardless of how small the garden is” adding that “the legislation is just not strong enough”.
In response city manager Brendan McGrath explained: “There is nationally an excess of horses and we are looking at a number of ways to deal with it. There is no law per se other than with regards welfare.”
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh explained there was legislation brought in last year in relation to cruelty to animals. He said: “An official from the Department of Agriculture told me the legislation is there. This isn’t acceptable, and gardai should have the powers to do more.”
Chief Superintendent for the Galway Garda Division Tom Curley told the committee that legislation was brought in by the 1996 Control of Horses Act which provides for microchipping and stipulates there has to be a certain amount of land. “It has to be adopted by the local authority. If we get a call we would be concerned about mistreatment and we can bring out a vet, but we have to look at the practicalities like where am I going to bring the horse,” he said.
Community representative Margaret O’Riada called for the council to start investing in initiatives to deal with problems associated with horses. “We have to invest in preventative measures. Galway is one of the few cities that does not have a horse project where vets are very happy to come out, assist people, and show them how to look after their horses. We have to invest in them,” she said.
“There needs to be more education,” said Cllr Flaherty, who added: “These horses are being tied up on short ropes, left with no water or feed, out all day in the sun. It is cruelty in the highest form.”
Chief Supt Curley said that he would welcome any new initiatives for the proper treatment of horses.