East of England: Equine cases soar for animal charity
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 March 2012
THE growing numbers of horses found neglected and needing care is putting the RSPCA under pressure "as never before", the charity has warned.
The RSPCA currently has 68 horses in boarding across the region.
The charity laid the blame for the rising number of neglect cases at the feet of horse owners and traders who they say are buying or breeding animals they can neither care for, nor sell.
It is understood the horse market is currently in a slump.
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde said: “People who have made a living from breeding and selling horses are failing to acknowledge that the animals’ value has dropped and they keep breeding although they have nowhere to keep the horses and have not accounted for the high prices of hay, straw and feed.
“This situation has got to stop. We have seen some ponies sold at markets for as little as £5 and the horses change hands on multiple occasions at numerous markets and sales, repeatedly compromising their health and welfare.
“The costs of euthanasia and gelding mean that many owners are also failing to pay for these, leaving sick and old horses to suffer and die, and leading to indiscriminate breeding amongst unneutered horses.
“We are, quite honestly, struggling to keep up with what is a mounting crisis.”
The RSPCA says the biggest problemfaced are the growing numbers of horses taken into care. Often these animals are subject to prosecution cases and can stay in care for months or even years – and it can cost more than £5,000 to rehabilitate a pony.
The number of times the RSPCA had to give welfare advice in relation to horses rose from 2,138 in 2010, to 2,176 in 2011.
In the eastern region, officers gave welfare advice in relation to 292 people in 2011. The advice ranged from urging owners to seek veterinary treatment, to providing more food, water or shelter. However, owners cannot always be found, particularly where they have left horses on someone else’s land.
RSPCA equine rehoming officer Sally Learoyd said: “We have been overwhelmed with enquiries from well-meaning people who believe that we are able to step in and remove animals straight away.
“We share their frustration that there are horses in fields which may seem as if they don’t have water or food but we do not have any powers to remove these horses unless they are suffering.”