Funding of €1.8m to 136 organisations involved in animal care and welfare services throughout the country has been issued by the Department of Agriculture with immediate effect.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the level of funding being provided to these organisations has increased for the third year in a row reflecting the importance of the work of these organisations and the overall welfare of animals.

“I am giving a special increase in funding to those organisations involved in horse welfare, to ensure sufficient resources are available to enable them cater for any difficulties arising in the area of horse welfare over the coming year and to assist them in complying with new legislation on equine identification and equine premises registration.”

The minister said that 2013 has been a challenging and demanding year for animal welfare organisations but praised the fantastic work carried out by them. He said recent reports of animal cruelty have highlighted the need to assist animal welfare organisations in their work.

“I am pleased to be able to provide support to these organisations by way of a grant to assist in their very important work and care of animals. My department has worked very closely with welfare organisations, local authorities and the gardai to intervene in cases of animal neglect or cruelty and we will continue to do so. It is not acceptable  that there are instances where animals gifted at Christmas time for example are frequently abandoned by their new owners and, in these situations, the work of animal welfare organisations continues to play a very important role in protecting Ireland’s reputation  as an animal caring nation.”

Regarding the new welfare legislation, the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, the minister said: “The adoption of the Animal Health and Welfare Act earlier in the year is very timely. It consolidates a wide range of existing legislation and applies in many situations affecting the welfare of animals that must be at the heart of everything we do. It enshrines the five freedoms concept of animal welfare, which underpin best practice in every situation where animals are kept, whether it’s an animal kept for farming purposes, sporting, recreational or companion purposes and it obliges owners to provide feed, shelter, healthcare and welfare to their animals. It also ensures that practices of animal cruelty such as attending a dog fight are now a criminal offence.”

As part of the allocation of funds, the minister reiterated the need for animal welfare bodies to adhere to good practice and an updated Code of Practice is being provided to every recipient of aid to assist them in the promotion of sound management practices and in achieving high standards of animal welfare.

The Animal Welfare Helpline will be manned over the holiday period from 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). At all other times it will divert to a recorded message and messages left will be monitored regularly. The phone number for the Helpline is: call save: 1850 211 990, phone: 01-607 2379 or [email protected].