Equine charities highlight perils of harsh winter

By: Horse Deals

Equine charities highlight perils of harsh winter
Equine charities highlight perils of harsh winter

Horse welfare charities are calling for government and public help in a landmark report: ‘On the Verge: the approaching Equine Crisis in England and Wales’

The report predicts that another harsh winter will leave animal charities unable to cope and asks what will happen to the increasing numbers of horses needing their help.

The charities are asking the public to rehome more horses; for horse owners to take responsibility for their animals and not pass the problem onto local authorities, charities and landowners; and for the Government and other agencies to help with this.

All the organisations have seen increasing numbers:

- Between April 2011 and March 2012, the RSPCA took in more than twice the number of horses as it did the previous year.

- World Horse Welfare has seen the numbers of horses taken into its centres rise by 50% from 129 in 2006 to 194 in 2011 and has had to restrict admissions to the most severe cases.

- Redwings has seen a 28 per cent increase in equines being taken in from 2006 to

and has seen abandonments rise from 160 in 2009 to 450 in 2011.

Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare said: "The organisations are already at breaking point with a severe shortage of available places and we are aware of an additional 6,000 horses which could be at risk over the winter.

"These are all groups of horses that are on the edge of becoming welfare concerns, either because their owners are struggling to look after them or because they are not getting the care they need and ownership is unclear. We could not cope if even a fraction of this number needed to be rescued.

"We are urging members of the public who can offer a horse a home to please do so now."

Nicolas de Brauwere, head of welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council, said: "It is an extremely serious state of affairs. In February this year, for example, we had a situation where a group of more than 60 horses and ponies that had been left to fend for themselves in Wales were facing euthanasia by the local authority which had found itself in an impossible situation through the irresponsible actions of a callous owner. On that occasion several charities stepped up at the last moment and offered them a home, but we had to stretch ourselves and our teams to the limit to do so.

"Another case like that may be the final straw, which is why we urgently need the help and support of both the public and the government as this winter approaches. Absolutely no one wants to see horses put to sleep but local authorities may be faced with some very difficult decisions if the situation does not improve."

For more information visit www.worldhorsewelfare.org.


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