Belfast Telegraph

Animal shelter in dire straits

By Dave Whelan

THE ONLY welfare centre for abandoned and neglected horses in Northern Ireland is at the end of its tether following its busiest year to date.

Hundreds of healthy horses from across Northern Ireland face being culled despite the efforts of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary because resources for the centre's work are so thin.

There are currently over 160 horses being cared for at the sanctuary despite it only having a capacity for around 55, while the sanctuary also currently cares for 20 rescued dogs and 30 rescued cats.

Sanctuary Founder, Lyn Friel says that despite being the backbone of NI equine welfare for the past 15 years, they are now dealing with rescue calls on at least a daily basis and sometimes numerous times a day.

"I've worked with horses all my life and I never envisaged a situation with horses being discarded at roadsides, deemed worthless and surplus to requirement – its soul destroying to watch," she said.

The recession has certainly been a major factor; the costs involved with keeping a horse have rocketed, however the market value of horses has never been so low.

"It's a recipe for disaster that we have been warning people about for the past five years but unfortunately we have now reached a point where there simply isn't anywhere or anyone to care for these horses.

"They need our help but equine rescue is expensive and our funds are at an all time low, we've reached saturation point and we need the public to please help us. The harsh reality of the situation is that these abandoned horses and ponies will go for slaughter if we can't admit them."

Crosskennan has never put a healthy animal down.

Lyn said that the 'horse meat' scandal has had a major impact on the value of horses: "At the last market, good stock horses previously worth thousands of pounds were going for £40."

Following the scandal Northern Ireland's only abattoir no longer slaughter's horses, meaning that there is often no financial value in keeping them.

"We don't just care for mistreated horses, there are horses here that have maybe been neglected but they are prime jumping and riding horses and we are appealing for any sort of help we can get to ease the load, whether that be re-homing a horse, temporary-fostering or any donation that can be made.

Work is set to begin in three weeks time on building a self-contained school room area at the sanctuary, which will include a facelift making the sanctuary more accessible and attractive to visitor groups.

A campaign has also been launched to build a new enclosure which will facilitate up to eight horses.

Crosskennan are appealing for the donation of materials to build a new shelter, two stables and a store.

You can make a donation to the sanctuary via their website www.crosskennanlane.org.uk or post a cheque or postal order to 26 Crosskennan Lane, Antrim, BT41 3SG. You can also help by offering one of their horses or ponies a home therefore creating an empty stable for another horse in dire need. If you would like to offer one of their horses or ponies a temporary/permanent home or set up a monthly donation by direct debit, then please contact them on 02894 465384 or crosskennan@hotmail.co.uk

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