Limerick vets under threat from animal abuse gangs

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The Shetland pony that was kicked to death
The Shetland pony that was kicked to death

A HORSE was left dying for over three hours beside a busy Limerick city roundabout after a vet was warned that he’d get a bullet in the head if he tried to help the suffering animal.

The incident at the Groody roundabout in Castletroy was one of a series of reports of veterinary officers being threatened by gangs of aggressive young men when they’re called out to attend injured or neglected animals around the city.

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Meanwhile, a shetland pony was kicked to death by a gang of youths aged between 12 and 14 years of age on the Hyde Road at the weekend. Another pony suffered serious injuries during the incident and Gardai are now investigating the matter.

Speaking at a city council meeting on the control of horses this Monday, Limerick Animal Welfare (LAW) spokeswoman Marion Fitzgibbon said that call-outs to deal with abandoned animals had now become a “frightening” experience for veterinary officers.

Referring to the incident at the Groody roundabout, Ms Fitzgibbon said the horse was left for three and a half hours dying on the roadside because the vet was abused and threatened.

“These fellas were very aggressive and used abusive language. It was very sad. They told the vet that they would put a bullet in his head. This is the new horror we are facing.

“It’s very frightening that professional people are being threatened like this. The Gardaí are always great to help us, and they want to help us, but their resources are stretched. These young people are full of drugs and other substances,” she claimed.

The animal welfare spokeswoman told council members that LAW’s expenditure for 2013 was €500,000. That figure was likely to reach €600,000 this year, she said. Last month alone, the group’s expenditure on neglected animals was €68,000.

“We have wonderful young volunteers but its very hard for them not to lose heart and to stay cheerful when they see these poor animals in great distress. It’s a disgrace the way horses are being treated.

“People wouldn’t be so quick to abuse animals if there was a stronger deterrent. An unbelievable number of horses are being destroyed. We are coming across animals in an appalling condition,” Ms Fitzgibbon commented.

She also recommended that sulky racing in Limerick should be banned.

“These young fellas belting horses on their sulkies should be ashamed. We’ve seen animals who’ve suffered broken bones and terrible lacerations from this activity,” she said.