There has been a reduction in the instances of dogs and horses being impounded, seized and euthanized in Co Clare.

Figures up until the end of September show only five horses have been euthanized in the county this year in comparison with 45 in 2015. Six horses have been rehomed this year which is a five year high while eleven have been impounded so far in 2018 which is equal to 2016 but a reduction on the 18 last year and 47 in 2015.

Similarly the amount of dogs being dealt with by the County Warden is also dropping. Fourteen dogs have been put to sleep which is a stark contrast with the 270 in 2014. At the Clare Dog Shelter, the records show 353 throughputs for the current year which is another reduction, the figure was 1,000 in 2014 and 737 last year. 175 dogs have been surrendered and 262 rehomed as of the end of September.

A service provider is contracted by Clare County Council for the provision of the dog warden service to operate and manage the dog shelter, the current contract for this expires at the end of December. An open tendering process was followed by the local authority for the new contract and tender assessment has been carried out by an evaluation panel. A letter of offer was released from the procurement unit and in compliance with EU tendering procedures there is now a cooling off period. The local authority is precluded from identifying the relevant contractor as the process is ongoing.

Education Procurement Services managed a request for tenders to establish a multi supplier framework agreement for the provision of services for the control of stray, abandoned and unidentified horses. The resulting framework was activated in July 2018, the Council entered into a contract at the beginning of September with Hungry Horse Outside Ltd, Longford to carry out the function.

According to Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby, “All dogs that enter the Clare Dog Shelter are assessed by a vet, are vaccinated and microchipped and this will continue under the terms of the new contract. Dogs which are not rehomed directly from the shelter are referred to reputable animal charities and rescues in Ireland including Dogs Trust and specialist breed rescues. The emphasis in the new contract will continue to be on rehoming dogs wherever possible”. She feels the refurbishment work due to be carried out at the shelter will also be of benefit.

Kirby outlined some of the aspects of the new contract with Hungry Horse Outside Ltd who “take responsibility for rehoming the animals”. “Equines will be held at the pound facility being provided by Hungry Horse Outside Ltd in Longford. Horses or donkeys which have been impounded and are not reclaimed by their owners, will be rehomed direct to Hungry Horse Outside Ltd for rehabilitation, passporting, castration and for training if required”. When ready, they will then be offered for rehoming to the general public at a cost. She added, “Euthanasia will be used only as a last resort in circumstances where the equine is in a state of pain or distress warranting euthanasia on humane grounds”.

Fine Gael Cllr Johnny Flynn recalled canvassing for the 2014 local elections when this issue was first brought to his attention. “Dogs and horses were being abandoned by careless and violent owners”. He said, “it is extraordinary to see the progress which is being led by Clare County Council. There is a recognition in the in the figures of the amount of dogs having to be rescued, they are in much better condition”.

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