Two horses left to die in Belvedere are part of growing animal welfare problem, says RSPCA
PUBLISHED: 15:38 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:38 27 January 2014
These horses were abandoned and left to die by the side of the road in Belvedere just days apart, but the horror is only the tip of the iceberg according to an animal charity.
In 2012, the RSPCA received 1,126 welfare complaints involving 3,871 horses.
The RSPCA took in more than twice the number of horses, 304, between April 2011 and March 2012 as it did the previous year.
Horses can cost up to £100 per week to look after, amounting to more than £70,000 in an animal’s lifetime.
They may live to be 25-30 years old and have been known to reach 40.
It costs charities around £15 a day to keep a rescue horse in boarding stables, without vet costs.
Ponies can be bought for £5 at some fairs after because of the economic climate and a market crash with overbreeding.
The RSPCA had to put one of the animals down because its body “couldn’t cope” with parasites eating it from the inside.
The young foal was only found when a dog walker spotted its nose poking out of a heavy duty Hippo bag in an alleyway behind homes in Kingswood Avenue on January 15.
RSPCA inspector Ellen Thomas said it was too late to help the horse, which had collapsed and had difficulty breathing.
She added: “He was extremely emaciated and while we managed to get the horse to sit up it was too weak to stand.
“He was transported to the vet where efforts were made to save the horse but after having made little improvement overnight the horse had to be euthanised.
“The vet said that the horse had such a severe worm burden that its little body couldn’t cope.”
The charity believes someone had thrown the horse from a vehicle driven down an alleyway next to The Leather Bottle pub.
Ms Thomas added: “How someone can dump a live horse in a dark alley knowing that they would be leaving it there to suffer and die is beyond me.
“It was an upsetting scene. I have never seen anything like it.”
The cruel incident seemed like a one-off but five days later, another horse was found in the industrial Crabtree Manorway North.
Again, it had been abandoned and left to starve to death, with no strength to walk or find food.
Witnesses saw a group of eight men carrying the 18-month-old animal along the road using a scaffolding pole before dumping it.
Rescuers from the RSPCA spent almost five hours trying to get the collapsed horse up and to safety.
Eventually, a firm from the industrial estate used their forklift truck to hoist it to its feet.
Inspector Nick Wheelhouse said: “Thankfully the horse survived the night and is doing really well considering, so we are hoping to take him to one of our boarding stables.
“This was a heartless act and we are looking for those responsible.”
Although shocking, the Belvedere cases are not uncommon – they were just two of 3,871 abandoned and mistreated horses the RSPCA dealt with in a year.
Crisis meetings have been organised by the charity and other organisations to work out how to cope with increased numbers of horses being dumped.
Although there are many reasons behind each case, since the recession started a common problem has been overbreeding, where unscrupulous owners breed foals for profit that they cannot find buyers for.
The RSPCA said ponies can be bought for as little as £5 in some places because prices have crashed in the saturated market.
The additional cost of keeping horses, amounting to thousands of pounds every year in vet bills, shelter and food, can become too much.
Charities attempt to re-home rescued horses where they can but demand and cost means that councils sometimes put down animals.
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said rescue organisations are “at breaking point”.
He urged members of the public to help by adopting animals or giving them a permanent home.
Anyone with information on either abandoned horse is urged to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message for Inspector Wheelhouse or Inspector Thomas.
For more information on fostering or volunteering, visit www.rspca.org.uk.