Animal welfare charity puts out ‘hay appeal’ to feed 60 ‘starving horses’

Limerick Animal Welfare has launched an online “hay appeal” to help it feed 60 “starving horses” that were found in a field in Limerick by its volunteers in recent days.

On the weekend, the charity put out a plea to the public on Facebook asking for donations.

“The situation this year is just horrific,” Marion Fitzgibbon, director of Limerick Animal Welfare, told AgriLand.

The place where the 60 horses are is just swampland…we’re probably talking private land, from what I am aware, so the council will not interfere.

“There are mares, foals; the foals are dying, the mares are falling down in these sort of conditions…it is a total disaster. There is nothing left in there for the more than 60 horses that are there.”

‘The phones don’t stop ringing’

Fitzgibbon said that there has been a particular problem with horses this year due to the cancellation of agricultural trade shows and and horse fairs, due to Covid-19.

“It’s just really bad…I’ve never seen more horses in the Limerick area,” she continued.

“It’s bad in Galway and elsewhere, but we would have huge areas in Limerick that would be well-known for having tracts of land where horses would have been able to graze on but, more and more land in the last year and a half is now being developed.

The horse situation is bad every year, but it’s compounded this year by the number of yearlings that didn’t get sold on.

This weekend, the charity also put out an urgent appeal for help in retrieving a horse that was stuck in a field in Rosbrien.

A volunteer was with the horse, but extra manpower was needed. However, due to a badly broken leg and not being able to handle the cold, the horse was put down.

“We’re just volunteers. The only people that can seize and destroy are the trained inspectors at the ISPCA [Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and DSPCA [Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] or the local authorities,” Fitzgibbon said.

“The phones just don’t stop ringing, especially the last number of days with other resources closed over the Christmas period.

“We’re the only ones left with a mobile on.”

Under EU legislation, all horses have to be microchipped. Fitzgibbon said that in the last five years, she has come across “maybe two microchipped horses”.

“People tell us on social media to name and shame the owners of horses that are in bad condition and abandoned,” she continued.

“But we can’t identify who owns them.

“It’s terrible that there are these animals that nobody is really responsible for. It seems to me that they are left out and if they live, they live, and if they die, they die, and see how many of them will be alive in the spring.”