H&H readers still unhappy at RSPCA response to cruelty complaints

  • As former horse dealer James Gray awaits the outcome of his appeal in the UK’s worst case of horse cruelty, H&H readers are still complaining that the RSPCA is failing mistreated horses.

    During a raid on Spindle Farm, Bucks, in January 2008, RSPCA officers found 31 dead horses, and removed a further 115 in the biggest equine rescue effort of its kind.

    Afterwards, H&H was flooded with complaints from people who had reported Gray to the RSPCA a long time before. The following March, the RSPCA promised to begin informing the public of progress after problems are reported.

    But one reader from Oxfordshire, who did not wish to be named, told H&H last week: “There is a case of extreme cruelty on a trading estate in Stanford in the Vale.

    “There are horses without food and water and, although at least three different people contacted the RSPCA, we have not heard back from them as to what they are doing.”

    Recent posts on the H&H website forum include: “Reporting anything is a waste of time”, and “I’ve only reported to the RSPCA once and the horse was dead within three days of them saying it was fine. Lesson learned.”

    Warwickshire owner Caroline Stoner claims that neglect persists at a neighbouring stud despite her constant reports to the RSPCA — most recently was last month.

    The RSPCA told Ms Stoner officers had attended, but she believes more should be done. “I am sick and tired of reporting the issue,” she added.

    But RSPCA director of animal welfare services Nigel Yeo rebuked claims that people are not being updated. “We have been putting in new systems to make it easier to inform people on the outcome of our enquiries,” he said.

    An RSPCA spokesman added that the owner of the horses in Oxfordshire had been given a warning about their condition, and that their welfare would be monitored.

    At the same meeting in March 2009, the RSPCA and other horse welfare organisations vowed to work together better. They agreed to a common core of training, to work sensitively together and to inform the public on how best to report equine welfare concerns.

    Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said: “This was a catalyst to bring those working in equine welfare together in greater mutual cooperation.”

    Tim Morris of the British Horseracing Authority agreed. “With Spindle Farm, all the groups piled in and tripped over each other, but there is much more collaboration now.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 April, ’10)

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