Horse and dog welfare in Ireland: laws need to be properly enforced

News feeds have been full of shocking stories about horse and dog issues in recent weeks, culminating in the RTE Investigates programme on disgraceful welfare and legal issues affecting horses being slaughtered for human consumption.

The recent concerns around dogs have mostly centred around restricted breeds, a topic that primarily affects risk to human life, but one that also deeply impacts on the dogs involved.

The common thread to both the horse and dog sagas is that the law is not being properly enforced. The legislation in these areas is strong and well-designed, but for many reasons, full implementation is not happening on the ground.

Implementation of animal laws is the key issue

Implementation is not easy: the main reason why the laws of a country work is that most people voluntarily agree to respect and obey them. For most people, the simple fact that laws exist is enough. Most people agree that laws ought to be obeyed, and that’s what they choose to do.

If unscrupulous individuals choose to break the laws, they also try to evade detection. It can take significant resources (including whistleblowers and secret filming) to detect them.

Nonetheless, this is the job of government: to do what it takes to ensure that lawbreakers are identified and penalised, so that other potential lawbreakers are deterred from doing so.

So over to you, Irish government. Put the structures in place to stop these types of abominations that continue to cause animals to suffer. 

Most people want animal welfare to be optimised

The Grassroots Gazette has reported and spoken strongly on the horse issues, here and here.

And more broadly, vet Meta Osbourne and equine behaviourist Dr Karen Luke have created a new podcast focussed titled “Changing Rein”, all about improving horse welfare “from the inside out”.

There are enough good people out there: our society wants to be kind to animals, and to prevent animal welfare abuses.

We all need to pressurise our government to put into practice the protective laws for animals that we have managed to put into place.

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