22 horses in Scottish welfare investigation: four put down

  • Four horses have been put down and 18 are in the care of a welfare charity after being removed from an equestrian centre in Fife.

    Anne MacGregor, the owner of the 22 horses who were being kept on DIY livery at Howe Country Centre, Ladybank, Fife, contacted the SSPCA on 15 January. Following an investigation into reports of “animal neglect” 21 horses were signed over into the care of the charity on Monday (21 January) and were removed yesterday.

    SSPCA chief inspector John Chisholm said: “The owner originally contacted the society with concerns she could no longer care for her horses and we have worked constructively with all parties involved to successfully remove the animals.”

    The SSPCA confirmed one horse was put down last week “on welfare grounds” and three were put down yesterday.

    “When we removed the other horses yesterday, all were independently assessed by a vet. It was mutually agreed by the vet and representatives from both the SSPCA and World Horse Welfare that it would be in the best interests of three of the horses to be put to sleep on welfare grounds. This is not a decision that was taken lightly,” said Mr Chisholm.

    In a statement Ms MacGregor said she had moved the herd to Howe Country Centre on 4 January and was “struggling with ill health”.

    “Unfortunately it turned out to be difficult to get cover for the herd when I physically could not get to the herd. The centre was advised of my situation at all times and on daily basis,” Ms MacGregor said.

    “I personally contacted the SSPCA to ask for help and to rehome the herd with immediate effect when it became apparent no cover was going to be there for them. The SSPCA visited the herd and between them, their vet and myself agreed an action plan to remove the herd.”

    Anne said the horses were vetted fit for travel bar one who had cellulitis and “was of older age”. It was agreed that this horse should be put down.

    “At no time were the herd starving and all efforts were made to ensure [the] herd [was] fed and watered on a daily basis. When the cover failed on a particular day I personally called for immediate help. I have always aimed to ensure the best for the herd amidst a few previous allegations, to which I have defended myself through solicitors,” said Ms MacGregor.

    A spokesman for Howe Country Centre said in a statement yesterday it was contacted by Ms MacGregor before Christmas asking if it could accommodate the horses on DIY livery.

    “Unfortunately it became apparent within one week she was unable to care for them properly. We raised our concerns to Anne who assured us she would find helpers to look after them — these helpers did not appear and so our concerns grew more. Through pressure from ourselves Anne realised she was unable to look after them and contacted the SSPCA who came on to the premises last Thursday and commenced a rehoming operation,” said the spokesman.

    “Due to Anne being unable to care for them the centre took over responsibility of looking after them. Today the horses have been removed from the centre for rehoming (there are some horses we would look to rehome ourselves – at the moment while the SSPCA deal with Anne and the legalities of ownership this is out of our hands).”

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