164 horses have been impounded since January
GARDAI are warning the number of loose horses being seized in Limerick is likely to increase significantly between now and the end of the year.
New figures show 164 horses have been impounded since January at a cost of more than €140,000.
This compares to 166 horses during all of 2017 and 206 during 2016.
Briefing members of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Inspector Dermot O’Connor said gardai work closely with Limerick City and County Council and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine when it comes to enforcing the relevant legislation.
Loose horses, he said, have been seized at a variety of locations across the city including from schools, playgrounds, public streets and sports pitches.
The most recent seizures were made last Wednesday in the Moyross area of the city.
“Horses are not designed to be roaming around housing estates,” he said adding that in addition to welfare concerns, loose horses also present a danger to people.
Members were told that two gardai were seriously injured last month when a loose horse ran in front of a patrol car on the N18.
“That could have been any car, you stand absolutely no chance whatsoever when a horse presents before you like that,” he said.
During the meeting, members criticised the department over the lack of prosecutions relating to horses which are not microchipped.
“The department doesn’t seem to have a strategy,” said Cllr Seighan O’Ceallaigh who stated there have been no prosecutions in more than two years.
He added that there have been just a handful of prosecutions by the local authority which has not issued any licence allowing horses to be kept within the city or its environs.
Insp O’Connor warned there is a strong likelihood the number of horse seizures will increase significantly in the coming months.
This, he said, is to do with the time of year and also because of the impending fodder crisis.
Figures released by the Department of Agriculture show that 138 of the 166 horses seized in Limerick last year were euthanised.
Eleven of the seized horses were reclaimed by their owners while 17 were rehomed.