The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has reported a 75% increase in the amount of cases submitted for criminal prosecution in 2023.
The amount of case files has increased from 17 to 33 cases.
The ISPCA currently has nine inspectors across the country.
When an animal cruelty case gets submitted, an inspector is assigned to the case, and they must investigate the claim.
As there are so little inspectors, the ISPCA reports that it must be very selective in the cases they investigate.
This means that they can only investigate the worst cases due to the lack of inspectors.
The ISPCA has seen a 49% increase in the amount of dogs surrendered between January and November of 2023, due to animal welfare concerns.
The number of cats seized and surrendered increased by 44% in the same period.
According to Chief Animal Welfare Inspector, Conor Dowling: “Offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act could include failures to care for an animal properly or failing to do anything that causes unnecessary suffering and not providing appropriate food or water of shelter.”
If found guilty, penalties can include up to five years in prison, and fines of up to €250,000.
According to the Irish Examiner, one recent case involved 115 dogs stacked on top of each other in wire cages in a house.
The dogs were forced to breathe “highly corrosive ammonia gas from stale urine”. This is damaging to their eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system, and can lead to blindness, lung damage, and in some cases, death.
Dowling said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increased demand for dogs -more people were working from home and had more time to devote to raising a puppy.
However, this has led to Ireland having too many dogs, and as people returned to their workplaces, some animals have been abandoned or neglected.
This has caused animal shelters to be stuck with rising numbers of animals.
Speaking to Cork’s 96fm, Caroline Faherty of the ISPCA spoke about Ireland’s cat population.
She said that Ireland has a huge cat population, and people not neutering their cats has led to this.
Ms Faherty said: “people have this thing where [they say] ‘it’s not my cat’, a cat comes along, could be a stray cat who’s lost his way, somebody starts feeding the cat, but they won’t neuter it, because they keep saying ‘it’s not my cat’.
Well, if you’re feeding the cat every day, I’m telling you, it’s your cat, it’s your responsibility.”
While the fact that there has been such a large increase in cases submitted for criminal prosecution is a good sign, there is still a long way to go in regard to cruelty against animals.
Emma van Oosterhout is a News Co-Editor for Student Independent News for the year 2023/2024. She is a Third Year Global Media and History student in the University of Galway. Emma has written for SIN since January 2023.