'Dangerously stretched' ISPCA's cash plea after 17,000 calls
An animal charity says it urgently needs increased funding as reported cruelty cases hit an all-time high.
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said 17,338 phone calls were made to its helpline last year.
A total of 86,549 calls have been received by the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline since 2014, the year in which the Animal Health and Welfare Act was introduced.
A new report highlights that there were 18 criminal prosecutions with which ISPCA inspectors were involved in 2018.
Inspectors carried out 3,494 investigations, with 1,102 animals seized or surrendered and taken into ISPCA care.
Since legislation came into force five years ago, 17,832 investigations have been carried out, with 5,147 animals seized or surrendered, while 64 prosecutions for animal cruelty have been successfully resolved in court.
However, while prosecutions show the impact that ISPCA inspectors are having, the charity said so much more could be done if it had sufficient resources - which would also enable the charity to reach counties not monitored by its nine inspectors.
According to the ISPCA, it costs around €50,000 to keep an inspector on the road, including vehicle costs, veterinary costs, uniform and equipment, administrative support and salary.
"With the majority of funding received from members of the public and through gifts in wills, the charity relies heavily on public support to continue our work preventing animal cruelty and alleviating animal suffering," said the charity's chief inspector Conor Dowling.
"We have never been busier or under so much pressure and our resources are dangerously stretched.
"There are many areas in Ireland we are currently unable to reach so we need to expand our inspectorate.
"We really need to also develop our animal accommodation facilities to enable us to take in the volume of vulnerable animals that our inspectors may wish to remove from sub-standard situations.
"We can do more if we have the resources and we are appealing to the Irish Government and the animal loving public to help us continue this vital work caring for Ireland's most cruelly treated, neglected and abused animals."
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said his department is committed to its continued support.
"We look forward to continued engagement with the ISPCA to ensure that all animals are fully protected and those responsible for neglecting, abusing or cruelly treating them are dealt with robustly," he said.