Local council plans “zero tolerance” measures after 100 horses are abandoned on open land
Up to a 100 horses in Dartford, Kent, are being left to graze illegally on Dartford Council land which is close to the Dartford Tunnel and M25.
Now, Dartford Council has decided that is enough is enough and has agreed to a “zero tolerance” approach.
A spokesperson for Dartford Council said: “It is intended to send a clear message to owners of horses that Dartford should no longer be seen as a ‘safe haven’.
“We can’t fence every open space we own, that’s not realistic. So in an attempt to recoup charges we are taking this action. “
Dartford Council says that it now plans to recover costs of removal and stabling from the owners of the animals. Many of the horses are of value as they are used as trotters and for breeding. Owners would have to pay these costs before the horses could be returned.
“There is always the risk that the council will be out of pocket if people don’t pay to get their horses back. We will have to see how it works out.”
Orders for prohibition notices saying that horse grazingis not permitted on council land have now been put in place. Warning notices are also going up telling people action will be taken to remove horses.
A joint effort
Dartford Council has been working closely with the RSPCA and the British Horse Society and arrangements have been made to ensure the animals are properly removed and stabled when action is taken.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “We are pleased that the councilhas taken this action. For a number of years irresponsible horse owners have been basically dumping their animals on land in the area without any thoughtfor whether the horses will get out on to the road and cause an accident or injury to themselves.
“The RSPCA has been working closely with the council to tackle the problem of irresponsible horse ownership in the area.
“We have set up an equine working group, working with the local council, the police and landowners. This was because we were getting an increasing number of calls about horses which had either got out on to the road and been injured or were just being left in a field.
“The equine working group was established two years ago. The main problem we face is accountability – especially if the horse is in poor condition in a field. The RSPCA has to prove ownership [before it can act].”
RSPCA Chief Inspector for West Kent Steve Dockery is responsible for setting up the working party.
A similar equine working group was set up in neighbouring Essex earlier this year.
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