Horse & Hound

RSPCA braced for ‘horse catastroph­e’


THE RSPCA is bracing itself for a “horse welfare catastroph­e” despite new microchipp­ing laws.

The charity expects its resources to be “crippled” by an influx of sick and dumped equines as a result of the coronaviru­s.

And although from 1 October, all equines in England must be chipped, the charity does not believe this will be enough to change the behaviour of those “at the heart of ” the equine crisis.

As the charity launches rehoming drive Adoptober, it has three times the number of horses in its care as it did in 2009.

“At the same time, many animal welfare organisati­ons have seen donations plummet during the pandemic, and there is already huge pressure on resources,” an RSPCA spokesman said.

“Animal welfare charities received no specific financial help during lockdown and the RSPCA is calling on the Government to give financial support to the sector for its vital work.”

Charity CEO Chris Sherwood said about 70% of equines rescued by the RSPCA are not chipped.

“When it came in for dogs, the number of strays reduced by 20% in four years, but we don’t think that’s going to happen for horses,” he said. “Without rigorous enforcemen­t and tough penalties, there is little to stop owners continuing to breed and dump horses. Local authoritie­s, which are in charge of enforcemen­t, are operating with limited resources, and facing the challenges of Covid, a [possible] recession and Brexit.”

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