One pony abandoned in a remote area near Aghacashel, Co Leitrim was luckily recused after a search over a few days, following a report that animals had been abandoned in the area.
Unfortunately help came too late to save two other ponies who died from what is believed to be a combination of neglect and exposure.
Co Leitrim Veterinary Officer, James Madden, told the Leitrim Observer that the surviving animal was “pretty emaciated but still lively enough” and had been taken to a Horse Pound in Co Mayo for further treatment.
It is believed that the three ponies were dumped some time during December where they were left to fend for themselves without access to shelter or food other than poor grazing.
“We have seen a lot of ponies and horses being dumped in recent years,” admitted Mr Madden.
“This is a phenomenan which started around 2010 as a result of too many people geting into the horse trade during the Celtic Tiger years,” he said.
“As a result of the overbreeding of animals and the low value of many of them, when the boom went and people tried to sell their animals at sales, they found they were virtually worthless.”
The result, he said, has been a dramatic rise in the number of animals being dumped in wasteland, on agricultural land and in woodland.
There have even been instances where farmers selling stock at marts have returned home to find that donkeys or ponies that other owners failed to sell, have been put into their transport boxes without their knowledge.Accordign to Mr Madden the number of abandoned animals seized by welfare organisations in Co Leitrim peaked in 2011 when 38 ponies and horses were taken into care. This figure dropped to 22 in 2012 and he said that he hopped this downward trend will continue in 2013.
“I have to pay tribute to those organisations who help povide care for animals such as this which have been abandoned. They do a phenomenal job,” he added.
He urged any horse owners who found they could no longer care for their animals to contact either the Co Letirim Veterinary Office or the ISPCA for assistance rather than abandon their animal.
“It’s not fair to abandon an animal to the elements. There are other options, “ he said.