What We Do

National Horse Amnesty Programme



National Horse Amnesty Programme Launched March 25th 2011 


DSPCA calls for support from Department of Agriculture, Local Authorities, Welfare Groups, Horse Industry, Vets and Concerned Citizens for the National Horse Amnesty Programme


The National Horse Amnesty Programme, an all-Ireland initiative devised and led by the DSPCA, was launched by Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Gerry Breen, in the Mansion House March 25th 2011. Designed to address the ongoing equine crisis in Ireland, the National Horse Amnesty Programme will provide a service whereby horse owners in trouble can seek advice and support in dealing with unwanted equine. The amnesty aims to reduce the numbers of horses ending up in unregulated sales, such as Smithfield, and prevent the unnecessary suffering that many animals are forced to endure.

Jimmy Cahill, CEO, DSPCA explains: “We estimate that the number of horses  with inadequate shelter, veterinary care or  food could be into the thousands. Last year, 120 horses were brought to the DSPCA in 2010, of these 50% were beyond veterinary treatment due to sickness or injury, these animals had to endure huge suffering before we were called.

“The National Horse Amnesty programme is designed to encourage horse owners who are no longer able to care for their horses to seek help and advice from the DSPCA . This represents a major shift in the DSPCA service from fire-fighting to proactively working with horse-owners and concerned citizens to assist the animal before it is too late. With this programme we can assist the animal before it suffers through starvation, injuries or lack of veterinary care or finds itself being sold on at unregulated markets or to unscrupulous dealers.

“The events in the so-called ‘Smithfield Horse Market’ last month shone a national light on what we in the DSPCA deal with on a day-to-day basis. Images of these fairs and of starving urban horses are being broadcast internationally – it is time that all of the agencies concerned worked together to deliver a collaborative solution to this terrible suffering. We are inviting the Department of Agriculture, Local Authorities, Welfare Groups,  the Industry as well as those that would like to adopt or foster a horse, to register their details with us and join us in this national response.”

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Gerry Breen has lent his full support to the initiative: “Due to oversupply and lack of demand, horses have made their way down the value chain. We have seen horses being bought by young children at Smithfield Market for as little as €8. Some of these children have no resources or knowledge about equine care. They are treating these animals like bicycles and will ride them until they die.

The National Horse Amnesty Programme being launched today will help protect these animals from unnecessary suffering by providing assistance to those that need it.  I would call on all of the relevant agencies, and anyone that can assist by providing veterinary help or a foster home, to contact the DSPCA and register with the National Horse Amnesty Programme.”

The DSPCA will be setting up a dedicated phone number where owners can ring in confidence and discuss their situation, an Amnesty Liaison Officer will assist them in the next steps. The Horse Amnesty telephone number is 01-4994700.  This will include, providing support to the owner to hold on to the animal while endeavoring to find an appropriate homing opportunity, taking in the horse, finding a suitable foster home for the animal if owner is under temporary pressure but feel that he / she will be able to take ownership of the horse again in the future. DSPCA will co-ordinate this activity and identify and vet potential adopters as well as liaise with other welfare groups who have capacity to take in some horses.

For more information, contact the National Horse Amnesty Programme by emailing info@dspca.ie or telephone 01-4994700.



Back to top |