Charities say there is a need for better education on animal welfare issues

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There is a need for better education about animal welfare issues and stronger deterrents and penalties for those who harm them, charities have said.

Organizations working with abused animals say they have never been busier than during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time when many people have experienced their own struggles.

Donkey Sanctuary Ireland currently has some 1,800 donkeys in its care and recently appealed for help to deal with a ‘growing donkey welfare crisis’.

Sanctuary manager Laura Foster said it was important to link human and animal welfare.

“Over the past 18 months, human well-being has suffered and we have never been busier,” she said. “We are seeing huge issues in some hotspots like along the West Coast which are related to the welfare of the people who care for the animals and we need to work with the communities in terms of education and awareness.

“Some people just don’t know that a donkey’s coat isn’t waterproof and that donkeys need shelter, especially at this time of year.”

While the reasons for animal neglect or abuse are often complex, Ms Foster said there is also a need for deterrents such as more prosecution of those who cause animal suffering.

Today is the first National Animal Welfare Awareness Day in Ireland, and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue announced a €500,000 increase in funding for nearly 100 animal charities at 3.7 millions of euros. He also urged people to think about animal welfare as Christmas approaches.

The Minister is due to visit the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) and Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park, which is home to a number of donkeys, today. These animals were previously in the care of Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, which receives a funding allocation of €230,000.

An additional €95,000 is donated to Hungry Horse Outside. Jacinta Darmon, director of the association, recently declared that she was “drowning in a tidal wave of abandoned, starving, abused and traumatized donkeys”.

Opportunity

DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird said the awareness day was an opportunity for her to raise a number of pressing issues such as ear cropping, which is increasingly prevalent among breeds of dogs such as bull terriers.

“It’s done for cosmetic reasons and sometimes it’s done with a Stanley knife without anesthesia in someone’s home,” she said.

Ms Bird said the DSPCA, which receives a funding allocation of €615,000, was urging people who were considering having a puppy this Christmas to first consider the possibility of fostering a dog for a few weeks, which would show if they had the time and resources to keep a pet.

She said delays in the court system meant that seized animals were left in the custody of the DSPCA for up to two years, making it difficult to find new homes for them.

Mr McConalogue said most Irish people have a deep love for animals, but ‘a small minority’ treat them badly, and he hopes to raise awareness of good animal welfare practice and the great work of organisations. charities working in the area.

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