There is something not quiet right about a helpline that actually does not help all of the time. Those who answer (during office hours) are very good at taking down information to ‘pass it on’. Who it is passed onto determines what help, if any, will be given! They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing and getting the same results! Hands up: who is mad? I and my friends keep emailing and ringing the animal welfare line which is part of the Department of Agriculture’s effort to combat and eradicate welfare issues in Ireland! If you ring, expect generic lines like: ‘yes, we’ve had a few complaints’ ‘yes, we are monitoring the situation’ and ‘yes, your complaint has been passed on.’ What remains constant is the complete apathy at times. Their silence is deafening; their lack of response is criminal. Horses starving to death in fields around Ireland is evident of this. Dying despite numerous reports.
My friend talked to someone at the receiving end of these complaints about a particular worrying area for horses in Ennis and the girl manning the line said ‘but someone is feeding those horses’. That someone is me! That someone is a person who stood with an inspector in this area and listened to these words ‘sure there are pickings around the trees and sure if you could throw them a bit – that would be great!’ I replied, ‘if I stopped feeding would you intervene?’ His response ‘they would want to be pretty bad!’ I reminded him ‘horses here are illegally held!’ He looked at me with great amusement! ‘You see I don’t think we are really enforcing the microchipping.’ At that point I just walked away! You see before I started feeding here, many ponies died of starvation. They too were reported!
On a more positive note, a little mini has captured my heart! Our paths crossing was brought about by him being attacked by dogs (same owners). He is an eye lid less but he is still with us. Keeping him safe meant taking over a shed where he lives and turning it into something akin to a stable. You know it’s the most frustrating place to be when you are holding a tiny pony whose very life is at risk and nobody with the power to change his fate comes! The guards need the armed response unit to go in here but they won’t come for a pony and the department despite receiving many complaints – well they just brush you and those complaints aside. I’m so grateful to my friends: one who pursued in getting a vet to assist, and another who helped me go to him. But they say curses are blessings in disguise and because of this brave little boy – life will be improved here for all the animals! I’m focused and extremely determined to do this. Again the support comes from friends and people I’ve yet to meet! The help line again did not produce any lifeline for a pony in need.
Yesterday my first rescue came home – it is three years since I climbed a sloping embankment to see her as a foal tied inside a steel barrier and standing on muck! That day I wondered why anyone would do this! She was my first rescue and not my last! I now know why people do this to horses and the reasons are chilling. So Mini/Ellie is now back where she began! With me in Clare! I gave her to a rescue nearly three years ago who gave her to a dealer who refused to tell me where she was! A link sent to me from donedeal ended a long and very upsetting search for her. She was jumping when she shouldn’t have been due to injuries caused by a sulky. She was pulling a sulky as a foal. Yes, as a baby!
There is something within me that refuses to give up. At times it blinds me to danger; at times it energises me when my eyes want to close and sleep; at times it makes me run towards animals in need instead of away. Sometimes I wish I could unplug that part from me.
I asked a fellow rescuer today, ‘do you feel some mornings that you want to leave rescuing behind?’ She smiled ‘everyday!’ What keeps us going? Because everyday there is another layer of sadness to digest! Maybe the happy endings are our ‘chicken soup for the soul’. These days they seem fewer. Because these days, animal welfare is deteriorating so we have less soup for the soul to remedy the rescue flu! That is what it feels like – living with a flu brought about by people outside of our circle of family and friends. Our only connection to them are the animals they abuse or give up on. To severe that connection would mean more suffering and more deaths.
We are really up against it! Dealing with these cruel or absent owners and dealing with a Department who is in fact killing these animals in need of help – just in a softer way. It’s still killing. They are dying terrible deaths due to lack of intervention and seizures.
I know it costs money to save lives but maybe – just maybe – if they started to enforce the law – well, that in itself would be a deterrent to people keeping horses when they don’t have the know how or the facilities to keep them. Maybe if they enforced the law, people who keep horses for ‘the sake of it’ or ‘for show’ without providing for them would be shamed into not being horse owners! This is not one socio-economic group who are guilty – abuse can be found amongst many groups! Some times it is just better hidden.
You know, every week I’m in awe of fellow rescuers! I am just doing a tiny percentage of what they do. There should be annual rescue awards but I guess that probably would not be possible! Because…. every rescuer is equally deserving I guess! x