COUNCILLORS have expressed concern over the number of stray horses being put down by Cork County Council.
At a recent meeting of the Western Committee in Clonakilty, Sharon Corcoran, director of environmental services with the Council, said that in the West Cork division alone last year, 20 stray horses were put down at the Council pound.
At a county level, the number of stray horses put down by the Council last year was 119, compared to 157 in 2014.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said the figure of 119 seems pretty high and while he acknowledged the high cost in putting the horses down, he also pointed out that it is an animal rights issue, and said an initiative is needed to combat this worrying trend.
‘I would imagine these strays are being picked up around the suburbs of Cork City. West Cork has so many animal welfare groups and maybe an action plan with them is needed to reduce the number of horses being put down,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said the number of horses being put down is ‘still desperately high’ even though the figure is down from last year. He asked if the problem was mostly related to travellers and suggested that maybe the Council could liaise better with those groups. Cllr Hayes also asked if the Council might provide more open land.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) questioned why the horses are being put down and suggested that maybe horse traders could be contacted with a view to exporting them.
‘To see them being killed is a backward step,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Sharon Corcoran admitted that the figure is very high, but that the Council has had big problems with strays on the northside of Cork City.
‘We no longer pick up horses on private properties, but we pick them up if they are on public roads and are a danger to the public. It costs a lot of money to put these down and the Council is paying 50% of the cost,’ said Sharon.
She also pointed out that it costs the Council about €1,000 per stray horse from the time they capture them until they are put down.
‘We have to kill them if they are not reclaimed and the problem is bigger than the resources we have. We’re only obliged to keep stray horses for five days and if they are not reclaimed then, we are forced to put them down.’
Sharon Corcoran also said that the Council would not be able to export horses if they did not know the owners of the horses.