Among the hardest-hit victims of Ireland's economic crisis are the nation's beloved horses, who have been abandoned by the thousands and face a winter of starvation. Unwanted horses have driven the price for them so low that it's now cheaper to buy a new horse than to pay a vet bill for illness, reports Der Spiegel. Abandoned horses are collecting in sad herds in the periphery of communities, and face a grim future. "If no one provides the increasingly thin animals with hay, they will have virtually nothing to eat and will die in a matter of months," said a spokeswoman for the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Last year 14 horses wandering near Dublin starved to death. "It was a terrible sight," said the manager. The scene this year will be much worse as some 20,000 horses have been abandoned in Ireland. The Dublin group has already put down 49 horses and the worst of the winter hasn't yet begun. The nation of horse lovers owns the highest number of the animals per capita in Europe, but the recession has led to a dramatic deterioration in the way people treat horses, observers say. The government, focused on thousands of unemployed people facing hardships, has few resources and less concern about protecting the animals.