The RSPCA is increasingly concerned about an equine crisis in Kent this winter involving horses who were neglected and then ‘dumped to die’.
The charity has received a spate of calls about distressing equine incidents in the county in the past few months.
In this time RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon and other officers have been called to more than 38 heartbreaking scenes in the county, with horses found dead or dying. They were left in terrible conditions by the side of roads, in woodland and sometimes dumped under fly-tipped debris as if they were rubbish.
Of these, 13 horses were found already dead, and 25 were collapsed and dying – six in such a poorly state that nothing could be done to save them and 19 able to be rescued, cared for and treated.
Inspector Russon said: “The equine crisis in Kent has been horrendous over the past couple of months and doesn’t feel like it is slowing down.
“I have been called out again and again to horses who are either already dead – or they are so neglected and unwell it is just too late to save them.
“The issue is particularly noticeable between November and spring because of winter-related problems like the lack of grazing and redworm and cold weather pushing animals who are already ill over the edge.
“These issues should be easily treatable, but instead of being given the care they need, the horses are just being neglected and then dumped to die.
“Horses can be very expensive to keep and we believe some people decide to callously abandon their poorly horses instead of pay for veterinary treatment. We urge owners who are struggling to care for their horses are urged to contact the RSPCA or other horse welfare charities for advice and assistance rather than dump their animals in a dying state.”
Among the heartbreaking scenes the RSPCA has been called to recently are:
- A dead horse found dumped in Bull Hill, Horton Kirby, Dartford, on Tuesday, 21 February
- The bodies of two horses found dumped on Beech Road, Kingshill in West Malling on Friday, 17 February (pictured above left)- one a year-old dark Bay mare with white socks, wrapped in a blue horse rug in woodland
- A dead horse was tied to a tree by the church in Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells on Friday, 17 February
- Six dying horses found in the Dartford area on Thursday, 16 February. As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot go into further details.
- A skewbald mare and her foal were found dumped in Wouldham Road, Rochester on Thursday, 16 February in an extremely poorly state. Both were emaciated and weak. The filly is still in RSPCA care, but sadly the mare died a few days later.
- A piebald horse was found dead and dumped on the side of the road in Eglantine, Horton Kirby on Tuesday, 14 February
- A young piebald pony was found collapsed and dying in Yalding, Maidstone on 28 January. We got a vet to check on her but sadly she was so unwell so could not be saved and had to be put to sleep to end her suffering.(pictured above, right)
- The body of a horse dumped underneath a pile of planks in a field in Horton Kirby, Dartford of wood on 2 January – next to a can of petrol container. We assume that the intention may have been to set the body on fire (pictured top left). A few days later six more horses were rescued from the same location – all still in our care.
- The body of the dead pony was dumped on a woodland path is the Wateringbury, Maidstone, in the first week of January (pictured above, right)
Inspector Russon added: “The incidents we know about are probably the tip of the iceberg, and there are probably an awful lot more cases of dead and dying horses which we aren’t told about – who are removed by the police or other agencies, or perhaps rescued by other charities.
“This equine crisis is heartbreaking for us all. We do all we can to rescue animals when we can but often by the time we are called about them it is too late and the horses are already in far too poorly a state for us to be able to help them.
“We will always look into cases of animal welfare reported to us, and do all we can to protect the welfare of the animals involved, but we rely on the public to be our eyes and ears in these situations as we can only investigate when we have information and evidence about who may have dumped an animal.
“Equally, it is important for people to remember we are a charity and have to act within the law. We do not have legal powers to remove an animal who belongs to someone, even when they have been left to fly-graze, and it is only the police who can take them and place them into our care when a vet has said there is there is evidence they are suffering.”
The RSPCA urges anyone who has any information at all about who dumped and neglecting their horses to call us on 0300 1234 999, in complete confidence.
The charity’s cruelty line received 75 complaints, rescues and collections about horses in Kent in November, 69 in December and then in January the number rose to 108. In February the figure was 82.
To help the RSPCA carry out their vital work please text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).