Champion showjumper Denis Lynch has raised €100,000 to assist the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) in tackling Ireland’s horse and pony welfare crisis. The announcement was made at the charity’s head office and national animal centre in Keenagh, Longford. Plans on how the funds will be spent are still being finalised.
A €20,000 cheque has been already sent on in previous weeks and during his visit to the Centre, Denis presented a cheque for a further €80,000, with a promise of more to come.
The money was personally raised by Denis from overseas donors based in Germany, Switzerland and Holland to help the charity in the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned and neglected horses, as it struggles to cope with unprecedented numbers as a result of the economic recession.
Denis flew in from Germany to visit the National Animal Centre in Longford and see the extent of the crisis for himself. He visited the horses, ponies and other equines housed there and met with ISPCA chief executive Noel Griffin, Barbara Bent, honorary secretary of the ISPCA, chief inspector Conor Dowling as well as other Centre staff.
“Once I was made aware of this issue back in Ireland, it preyed on my mind for months and I felt I had to do something to help in some way if possible. International showjumping brings me into contact with a large group of very affluent people who are very involved with horses and were aware of the issue in Ireland, not only through the press but also through contacts in the horse world. I decided to tap into that interest and use it to raise funds for the ISPCA, which is doing Trojan work in this area but desperately needs more financial assistance,” said Denis.
Tipperary-born Denis Lynch is one of Ireland’s top-ranked champion international showjumpers. Currently 9th in the world, he has been living and working in Germany for the past 16 years. Back in the summer, Denis had been alerted to the suffering through extensive international press coverage. He contacted the ISPCA directly before Christmas and told them of his intentions and then duly launched his appeal at a major showjumping event in Basel in January.
“It is difficult to express adequately how much the very real support of someone like Denis means to the charity at a time when we need it most”, said Noel Griffin, the chief executive of ISPCA. “While we do receive a grant from the Department of Agriculture and the general public have been tremendously supportive, nonetheless there still remains a large gap between this and our actual financial costs, which have risen sharply as a result of the equine welfare crisis. The funds raised by Denis will go a long way towards alleviating the suffering of the horses and ponies that come into our care,” he continued.
Equine calls to the charity’s animal cruelty helpline have tripled since 2008, with over 2,000 cases reported in 2010 and the pattern of calls in the first months of this year indicate that this figure will be exceeded in 2011. Many of the rescued animals require long term and costly rehabilitation.
Chief Inspector Conor Dowling added, “So many equines are being discovered in need of specialist treatment that equine care staff are inundated with requests for assistance. Organising transport and accommodation for these animals is a major issue and our facilities are already stocked well beyond the designed capacity. The psychological effect it has on our staff and inspectors also takes its toll.”