SPECIALIST equine officers are being trained to tackle the growing problem of horse cruelty.
The RSCPA in Durham says it is being stretched to the limit by the large number of ponies and horses abandoned and neglected.
In a bid to help tackle the problem, which is worst in the North of England, a number of the charity’s RSPCA inspectors are spending a week training to be specialist equine officers at the only equine centre in the North, Felledge Animal Centre in Chester-le-Street.
The charity is being put under pressure like never before, dealing with large numbers of dead or dying horses being dumped in remote spots and horses placed in RSPCA care because their owners are accused of cruelty and neglect.
Today, the RSPCA is boarding 227 horses in the North of England alone which are subject to ongoing investigations, almost all of which are in private establishments at a cost of between £10-£15 per day, a figure which doesn’t include veterinary or farrier care.
Cathy Hyde, equine officer for the North of England, said: ““We seem to be seeing more and more dead and dying horses dumped off the back of trailers in secluded areas, their owners unwilling or unable to pay for veterinary treatment or a ‘knackerman’ to dispose of their body.
“Irresponsible owners and traders can’t care for or sell the stock they already have, but are continuing to breed. When those animals suffer or their needs aren’t met organisations like the RSPCA are left to pick up the pieces.
“We are, quite honestly, struggling to keep up with what is a mounting crisis.”
Cathy said that where veterinary advice supports the fact that animals are suffering, the charity acts immediately to remove them.
But she added: “This leaves us with the insurmountable problem of hundreds of horses whose care we fund for many months and even years until their owners are prosecuted or agree to sign them over so they can go to new homes.”