BYLINE: Andrew Bushe
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 2
LENGTH: 308 words
A HORROR trade in surplus British ponies that are ridden to death has been exposed.
If the pitiful beasts survive they end up inflicted with terrible injuries.
The trade into Ireland has been slammed by a Dublin animal welfare inspector who said the situation is out of control.
The Shetland and New Forest ponies are being bought for as little as 20p in Britain and imported to Dublin via the North.
They are fetching up to EUR250 in the capital and are causing major problems for the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) and Gardai, particularly in Clondalkin, Tallaght and Ballyfermot.
DSPCA Inspector Robert Stone reckons up to 30 ponies a month are being imported and called for urgent new laws to control the growing trade.
“It’s basically lawless at the moment. It has got ridiculous. The horse market in Smithfield should be closed down,” he said.
The society’s welfare staff is trying to cope with the rising toll of injured ponies turning up since the trade began about six months ago.
Many have been so badly injured they have had to be put down where they have been found to end their suffering.
DSPCA staff have also been threatened.
More than 180 horses and ponies have been recovered this year.
“We have had to shoot eight or nine in recent weeks, which is a lot. Every so often these ponies are taken off Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Shetland Islands because there are too many of them there.
“They are sold at markets to dealers with others going as pets or for slaughter.
“It would have been better that they were put to sleep instead of coming here.
“There are groups in England kicking up because they are going for slaughter but they probably would have been better off going for slaughter than having to face the conditions we are finding them in.”