STARV­ING HORSES SPARK ON­LINE ROW

RSPCA says so­cial me­dia vig­i­lantes do more harm than good

Central Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Macken­zie Colahan Macken­zie.Colahan@cnbtimes.com.au

THE death of a ema­ci­ated thor­ough­bred at Than­g­ool has sparked out­rage on­line.

The horse, which con­cerned neigh­bours had re­ported to au­thor­i­ties, ap­peared to be se­verely mal­nour­ished and was eu­thanised by its owner, dec­o­rated veteran and Than­g­ool Aux­il­iary Fire Sta­tion cap­tain Don Bald­win, on Mon­day.

The RSPCA and biose­cu­rity of­fi­cers from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into mul­ti­ple com­plaints of an­i­mal cru­elty.

The com­plaints arose over what neigh­bours called the “ap­palling and un­ac­cept­able con­di­tion” of five horses at the Les­lie Rd prop­erty.

The case has drawn the wide­spread con­dem­na­tion of an­i­mal ac­tivist groups on so­cial me­dia, with a Face­book post at­tract­ing more than 30,000 re­ac­tions in 24 hours.

The case was brought to the RSPCA’s at­ten­tion early last week. Ac­cord­ing to the RSCPA, in­spec­tors were no­ti­fied im­me­di­ately and a de­ci­sion was made to ob­tain a war­rant with the in­ten­tion to ex­e­cute it with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing equine vet­eri­nar­ian.

Hav­ing seen pho­tos of the horses, ar­range­ments were also made with stock con­trac­tors, as it was the RSPCA’s view the horses would be seized.

The case was re­ferred to Biose­cu­rity Queens­land, which at­tended the prop­erty with a gov­ern­ment vet on Tues­day and Thurs­day last

week. The owner was served a legally bind­ing An­i­mal Wel­fare Di­rec­tion un­der the An­i­mal Care and Pro­tec­tion Act 2001 but the an­i­mals were not seized af­ter of­fi­cers de­ter­mined the “ma­jor­ity of other horses were all in good con­di­tion”.

Four days later one of the horses was dead.

An­i­mal wel­fare ac­tivist Judy Scrivener said it was clear the horses re­quired im­me­di­ate care and should not have been left in that con­di­tion.

“I’m ap­palled with what’s go­ing on,” she said.

“This mat­ter was not dealt

with cor­rectly. The real con­cern here is with Biose­cu­rity Queens­land. The re­sponse in this case has been dis­turb­ing. Mere days af­ter Biose­cu­rity’s ‘ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als’ were there the horse has died.

“In NSW, the RSPCA will hook up a float and seize on the spot.”

The RSPCA hit back in a state­ment, say­ing so­cial me­dia “lynch mobs” were detri­men­tal to the cause, of­ten weak­en­ing the chance of pros­e­cu­tion in an­i­mal cru­elty cases.

RSPCA Queens­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Townend said the or­gan­i­sa­tion didn’t have the “magic pow­ers” to seize an­i­mals that some peo­ple as­sumed.

“I have read lots of dis­parag­ing and in­ac­cu­rate com­ments on­line so I thought the facts should be laid out, plain and sim­ple,” Mr Townend said.

“We have to com­ply with the law, which dic­tates the process that must take place in re­la­tion to our in­ten­tion to ob­tain a war­rant. RSPCA doesn’t is­sue the war­rants.

“The owner de­cided to eu­thanise one of the five horses, which is in ac­cor­dance with the law and some­thing nei­ther DAF nor RSPCA can refuse, pro­vided the eu­thana­sia is hu­mane.

“We have seen this hap­pen pre­vi­ously when so­cial me­dia runs a cam­paign and then the next thing own­ers ex­er­cise their le­gal right as the owner of an­i­mals and take away any op­por­tu­nity for agen­cies to in­ter­fere.

“These cam­paigns ul­ti­mately do noth­ing to help en­force­ment, do noth­ing to help an­i­mals and leave those or­gan­i­sa­tions who do great work for an­i­mals with­out much-needed funds and re­sources.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing that peo­ple make com­ments about RSPCA and other en­force­ment agen­cies with­out know­ing the facts and apparently pre­sum­ing that all the good peo­ple who work at these places be­cause they have a pas­sion for an­i­mals would do any­thing other than their best to help an­i­mals in ev­ery case.”

The owner of the horses was un­able to be reached for com­ment.

It is dis­ap­point­ing that peo­ple make com­ments about RSPCA and other en­force­ment agen­cies with­out know­ing the facts.

— RSPCA chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Townend

PHOTO: MACKEN­ZIE COLAHAN

CON­FRONTING: Hor­ri­fied neigh­bours re­ported the shock­ing con­di­tion of mal­nour­ished horses in a pad­dock at Than­g­ool.

PHOTO: MACKEN­ZIE COLAHAN

CON­FRONTING: Both the RSPCA and Biose­cu­rity Queens­land have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into com­plaints of mal­nour­ished horses at Than­g­ool.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

A photo of the horse which was eu­thanised by its owner on Mon­day.

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