SIXTY-SIX horses have been put down and 62 have been re-claimed or re-homed at a cost of e120,544 to Louth County Council in the last five years.
A growing number of animals bought during the boom years are being abandoned and less horses are being slaughtered for food due to the horsemeat scandal.
Local authorities are being hit with increasing costs as councils are responsible for the impoundment and disposal of stray horses.
Horses can be reclaimed by their owners by paying a fee, while others are re-homed through charities. The Control of Horses Act allows for the disposal of horses if the owner fails to make themselves known within seven days of seizure.
Forty-nine horses were seized in neighbouring Co Monaghan at a cost of e6,296 from 2008 to the end of the first quarter in 2013. Twenty-four (49%) of which were euthanised. The remaining 51 per cent were re-claimed or re-homed.
Meath County Coucil seized 276 horses during the same period of which 190 (69%) were put down and the remaining 86 (31%) were re-claimed or re-homed. The seizures cost the local authority e136,127.
Cavan County Council, which seized 43 animals, was the only local authority where no horses were put down since 2008. All of the animals were re-claimed or re-homed.
According to figures compiled by The Irish Independent, the rate of horses being put down nationwide has dramatically increased since 2011, with slaughter rates now nearing 70%.
More than 1,000 horses have been euthanised in the first four months of 2013 alone.