HORSES are being abandoned and ‘left for dead’ as Hampshire faces up to a major equine crisis, according to an animal welfare charity.
In 2017 there were 483 complaints about 368 horses in Hampshire as the RSPCA was forced to rescue 52 horses - up from 30 in 2016 - making the county the third highest in the country.
Throughout the UK, officers were forced to rescue nearly 1,000 horses from cruelty and neglect last year - with a staggering 928 horses still in the charity’s care, costing over £3m a year.
The growing epidemic of negligence against the animals often sees found dead, dying or in poor health.
Despite the RSPCA’s best efforts alongside other equine welfare organisations, the worrying trend looks set to continue with huge pressure on the charity to find stables and funding to keep the horses. Most horses need to be cared for in private boarding stables - further pushing up the cost to the charity.
Convictions secured by the RSPCA in England has risen by 25 per cent in two years with it securing 1,492 convictions last year under the Animal Welfare Act.
Today The News reported that two breeders from Paulsgrove, Robin Jeffries and Pauline Vinall, appeared in court charged with 13 animal offences after mistreated horses were found in Denmead. An RSPCA inspector told the court that the horses had suffered prolonged neglect and that some had a work infestation.
And in another case last year near Highclere Castle, north Hampshire, 59 horses were rescued after being maltreated. With none of the seized equines having microchips or passports it was impossible to trace the owners who had dumped them.
The RSPCA’s inspectorate national equine coordinator Christine McNeil laid bare the devastating situation. She said: ‘Last year we took in more horses than we have in the past four years and with our inspectors being called to rescue more and more every week, we are stretched to the limits.
‘Horses are being found sick, dying or sometimes dead and it is frequently the case that they have been abandoned and left for dead. This is upsettingly very common and it’s a massive issue - a very sad one at that.
‘We are constantly receiving calls to our cruelty line - on average 80 per day about horses alone - as well as messages every day on social media from very concerned and upset people asking for our help.’
Claudia Corner, an equine rehoming officer for the RSPCA, added: ‘For many horses, being rescued is just the beginning of a long road to recovery, it can take many months for us to rehabilitate them to a point where they can be rehomed.
‘The time and work during those months is absolutely essential but extremely costly and we desperately need the public’s help. Those who rehome a horse from us are doing something very special and their help and support is priceless.’
To support the RSPCA visit www.rspca.org.uk/suffering