Animal protection officials have spoken out after the purchase of a sick horse by an 11-year-old at Dublin's monthly Smithfield Horse Fair – for just £6 (€8).
Dublin SPCA inspectors were in attendance at the market and the child brought the pony to them to take back to the shelter.
On examination at the Dublin SPCA shelter the pony, aged about 15 years, was found to be in severe pain – and it is uncertain whether the animal can be saved.
Liam Kinsella, inspector with the Dublin SPCA questioned the kind of society where an 11-year old-child can purchase an ill and suffering animal for €8 in a public market contrary to Control of Horses Act – which forbids the sale of horses to those under the age of 16.
“It is appalling to think that someone allowed her to get into that condition and then offloaded her for less than the price of a packet of cigarettes.
“There are no words left to describe my anger and frustration at the current situation regarding equine in this country,” he said.
Ireland is in the midst of an equine crisis, as a number of factors cause more and more horses to suffer, according to the DSPCA.
Reckless breeding during the Celtic Tiger years means the country is awash with unwanted equine. Added to the problem are the increasing cost of fodder and the diminishing value of equine, it says.
Jimmy Cahill, General Manager at the Dublin SPCA said; “We have witnessed a number of horrific cases of cruelty to horses that originated at the Smithfield market which is unlicensed, unregulated, and completely unsuitable for horses.
“Typically the Dublin SPCA rescues approximately 40 horses a year, by end of August 2009 we are approaching 90.”