Abandonment of animals and fewer horses being slaughtered for food has seen a rapid increase in the numbers being seized and put down by local authorities in Ireland.
In the past five years the authorities have spent $16.5 million on destroying horses. However in the past two years, since 2011, the numbers of horses being slaughtered has risen by 80 percent, the Irish Independent reports.
Authorities have said the increase in numbers is due to horses which were bought during economic boom years of the Celtic Tiger being abandoned and the fact that fewers horses are being slaughtered for food since the horse meat scandal earlier this year.
ISPCA chief inspector Conor Dowling told the Irish Independent the increase in the number of horses being put down was due to a “massive overproduction” of horses during the Celtic Tiger.
He said, “This is compounded by the issues with the horse meat. Last year, there were 24,000 horses slaughtered for meat. That's likely to be under 8,000 this year so that's a big surplus of horses.”
According to the Independent 12,622 horses were seized in 2008 and 5,825 were put down. However since 2011 this figure has increased drastically. During the first four months of 2013 over 1,000 horses were destroyed.
Around Ireland the 34 local authorities have hired private contractors to deal with the problem. Horses that have been seized can be reclaimed when the owners pay a fee. Others are rehomed and do not get destroyed.
Since 2008 Dublin has spent $2.6 million on its seizing program, destroying 787 horses in the process. Another 149 horses were returned to their owners and 799 were rehomed.