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Minister Smith awards €1.185M in funding to 112 Animal Welfare Organisations

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, has today approved ex-gratia payments totalling €1.185m to 112 organisations involved in the direct delivery of animal care and welfare services to assist with their work during 2010.  Minister Smith said that he was particularly pleased in the current economic climate to be in a position to provide funding to these largely voluntary bodies towards their work in the provision of animal welfare services.  The payments will be made with immediate effect and the Minister said that "he is confident that the money will be put to good use by the organisations in providing the best possible service towards animals in their care".

The Minister made the announcement during a visit to the Irish Blue Cross animal welfare charity in Inchicore, Dublin where he officially opened a new small animal clinic. Paying tribute to The Blue Cross and the other animal welfare bodies operating throughout the country in both urban and rural areas, Minister Smith expressed his "thanks to the organisations particularly for their efforts and the work being done by them in circumstances that are not always straightforward, particularly when dealing with difficult animal welfare cases".  The welfare organisations provide very practical help to the public on pet care and animal related queries and provide accessible veterinary treatment usually at their premises and in the case of the Blue Cross at mobile clinics.

Where animals are being compromised the Minister stressed the importance of having legislation in place to act as a deterrent against the abuse of animals.  In this context the Minister confirmed that new animal health and welfare legislation will update existing laws to ensure that the welfare of all animals, including non-farm animals, is properly protected and penalties for offenders are increased significantly. The new legislation will also provide for the consolidation of responsibility for the welfare of all animals within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The Minister in acknowledging the work being done by the Irish Blue Cross in animal welfare congratulated them on the opening of their new small animal clinic, which represents another milestone in the Charity's history. The clinic provides a service to genuinely needed pet owners in offering life saving veterinary procedures for their animals. The new clinic complements the other work carried out by the Blue Cross, which will be familiar to many people namely the mobile clinics that treat thousands of small animals in and around Dublin city and the horse ambulance service involved in the provision of assistance to horses at Irish racecourses both North and South.

The Minister praised the dedication of staff working throughout the country for welfare organisations on a purely voluntary basis.  The Minister went on to say that "while by and large we are a nation of pet lovers and treat our animals with respect, instances of maltreatment of animals do occur and we are fortunate in Ireland in having such an extensive range of welfare organisations throughout the country actively involved in delivering care, support and assistance to compromised animals".

In conclusion, the Minister urged people to remember the level of care and responsibility required when taking ownership of animals.  This can often be forgotten at Christmas when animals are given as presents without due consideration to the level of commitment required in owning an animal.  He asked people to heed the warnings and advice offered in this regard and urged people, particularly parents and guardians "to reflect carefully before giving a pet as a present at Christmas or indeed at any other time of the year".



Date Released: 17 December 2009