The equine welfare problem in Dublin is a complex issue that is not black & white. To try & find long term solutions the DSPCA has been working on a number of initiatives. Our main aim is to work with communities where possible & find long term solutions. Where this is not viable then enforcement will be needed.
Firstly, we would like to announce a 5-year Equine Welfare & Outreach plan for the Dunsink landfill. This has just been finalised with the support of DAFM & Fingal County Council. The programme will commence with microchipping & registering horses for passports, castration of stallions & colts, and the implementation of an emergency vet response team. Our Equine Welfare & Rehoming manager will be working with the horse owners in the area with the long term aim to reduce the numbers of horses on the landfill. DSPCA is a member of the Dublin Region Horse Welfare Working Group. This group was set up over 2 years ago to tackle Dublin’s equine welfare problems & includes the DSPCA, Irish Horse Welfare Trust, Cherry Orchard Equine Centre, Fettercairn Youth Horse Project, Clondalkin Equine Club, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine & senior representatives from the four Dublin Local Authorities and Department of Agriculture Food & the Marine. The group is split into task forces including Education & Indiscriminate Breeding which DSPCA team leads.
The Education Task Group has run 4 events since 2018 called “Horse Aware Week” (HAW). The aim is to educate children & young adults about responsible horse ownership and the issues/needs of urban horses and also to allow them to see potential career prospects. Through education and engagement, we believe that positive outcomes can be attained which have far reaching consequences for the wider community. Due to COVID restrictions the HAW week planned for this year had to be postponed. Plans are to run a virtual HAW in early 2021 targeting the Cherry Orchard & Ballyfermot area. Horse Aware Week has been supported by the Dublin Councils & DAFM.
The work of the DSPCA & the Dublin Region Horse Welfare working group is seeing positive results. For example, the number of horses seized in the South Dublin area for 2020 to end of Nov was 59 which is a decrease of 30 equines. In the Dublin City area, the number of horses seized was 39 to end of Nov, which is also a decrease from 2019.
DSPCA runs subsidised Castration Clinics & a Snip & Chip Programme throughout Dublin to castrate and microchip stallions to help with traceability and the unnecessary breeding of unwanted horses. Almost 75 equines have been castrated & 66 registered for passports through these programmes in the past 2 years.
Our Equine Welfare Education & Outreach Programme works in schools and with young people in disadvantaged areas to teach them empathy, responsible horse care and point them in the direction of equine careers by working with organisations such as the Garda Mounted Unit, Army Equitation School, RACE Academy, Irish Harness Racing Association and the Irish School of Farriery. These workshops have been hugely successful in opening up career opportunities for young people who would not have had the opportunity otherwise. We are working with horse owners from Scribblestown Pony Club & Horse Power Project, currently we have 4 young people who are working towards RACE Academy.
We are hopeful that through these initiatives & further plans for 2021 that we can find long term solutions that will bring about responsible horse ownership & in time a reduction of horse numbers in urban areas. This is a fresh approach that should make better use of tax payers money. Through education we can facilitate the youth of today to become the leaders in their communities & educators of tomorrow.