RSPCA officers in Hampshire are facing an equine crisis, according to new figures released by the animal welfare charity.
The charity’s new cruelty statistics reveal that nearly 1,000 horses were rescued by the charity from cruelty, suffering and neglect last year (2017), and a staggering 928 horses are still in the charity’s care.
In 2017, RSPCA officers in Hampshire received 483 complaints about 368 horses. The animal welfare charity also rescued 52 horses from across the county (2017) up from 30 in 2016 – placing the county third highest in the country, behind Kent and Durham, for equine collections last year.
The national horse crisis, which charities first highlighted in 2012, has since seen RSPCA officers routinely called out to abandoned horses every day up and down the country, with many of them extremely sick, dead or dying on arrival.
The RSPCA’s latest figures show the horrifying impact of the crisis:
The charity’s 24-hour emergency line received more than 80 calls a day about horses in 2017
The charity took in the highest number of horses into its care for four years (980)
The charity currently has 928 in its care
Last year the RSPCA secured 25% more convictions for equine offences than two years ago.
It costs the RSPCA more than £3m per year to care for the horses, excluding veterinary costs.
Despite the efforts of the RSPCA and other equine welfare organisations, the crisis shows no sign of easing, with huge pressures on the charity to find stables and funding to keep the large number of horses it has had to take in. As soon as one horse is rehomed, another is waiting to immediately fill the stable and, as a consequence, the majority of horses taken in by the RSPCA have to be cared for in private boarding stables at further cost to the charity.
In fact, the number of convictions the RSPCA secured after investigating cruelty and neglect to horses in England has risen by 25% in two years, with convictions relating to horses accounting for 15% of the total number of convictions secured by the RSPCA last year (2017.)
Last year the RSPCA once again dealt with shocking cases of horrific cruelty and neglect, securing 1,492 convictions under the Animal Welfare Act.
The RSPCA’s inspectorate national equine co-ordinator Christine McNeil said: “We’ve been talking about the horse crisis for several years now, but the truth is the situation is just as severe today as when it started. Last year (2017) 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.
“Up and down England and Wales, 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.
“Many of the calls we receive from people who are concerned about a horse have found them being illegally fly-grazed – where horses are moved from place to place to eat the grass there, often without the permission of the landowner.
“We are also frequently called about tethered horses, where the animals are kept secured to a peg in the ground on unfenced land with a rope or chain. We do not agree with tethering but sadly there is nothing we can do as this practice remains legal.”
The latest RSPCA statistics feature in the charity’s Prosecutions Annual Report 2017.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit:www.rspca.org.uk/suffering