The Irish SPCA describes its figures on equine seizures and surrenders as startling, and is calling on the government to act.
The charity says equine welfare problems in the country are still increasing and it was struggling at breaking point.
“Recent figures from the ISPCA show huge increases in complaint volumes and in the numbers of animals whose seizure or surrender has been organised by the charity’s team of inspectors,” it said.
“While this trend is evident for all species, the statistics for equines are particularly startling.”
There has been a 160 percent increase in the number of equines taken into care so far in 2013, compared with the same period last year. In the first seven months of this year, it received almost as many equine related cruelty allegations as it did in all of 2012.
“It is not possible for a charity such as the ISPCA to cope with these demands and the organisation is calling on the Department of Agriculture to enforce Equine Identification and Registration of Premises regulations, and for local authorities to take responsibility where ownership of equines in urban areas is unclear.”
The charity cited the case of Nina, a young trotter, as typical of the problems it faced.
Nina, it said, was left to die before being rescued by ISPCA Inspector Michael Keane in County Laois.
She had been abandoned with multiple wounds and lacerations to her legs, ingrown head-collar marks and serious bite wounds.
She was unable to walk due to an infected open wound on her hind leg, was dehydrated, emaciated and in desperate need of emergency veterinary intervention.
She is now in the care of the equine staff at the ISPCA’s National Animal Centre and will make a full recovery.
“We predict a large number of equines will suffer this winter, many dumped and left to starve, and sadly we won’t be able to help them all,” ISPCA chairwoman Barbara Bent said.
“We are asking horse owners to take their responsibilities’ seriously, make preparations for feed early and, if in need of help, seek it as soon as possible.”
In addition to the rise in equine case, the charity has seen a 57 percent increase in dogs and a 156 percent increase in cats seized or surrendered.