RSPCA watch dog: RSPCA management fails animals despite the hard work of volunteers
Photos taken 22nd August 2006 by Erik Gorton, and 3rd June 2006 by Patty Mark
RSPCA fails horses in need
The RSPCA has been monitoring the starving horses in Tolmie for seven months with little result.
by Noah Hannibal

White Mare 22nd Aug 2006
SICK CLYDESDALE - 3rd June 2006. Photo: Patty Mark
This Clydesdale literally collapsed in front of ALV team member's eyes and was euthenised by a vet soon after.
Animal Liberation Victoria President Patty Mark was contacted in May this year regarding an ongoing problem with starving horses on a property in Tolmie, some ten minutes out of Mansfield. Patty and ALV rescue team member Dave Bell attended at Tolmie, accompanied by local complainant Kay Sundborn, on Saturday June 3. Many horses were seen and photographed in very poor condition, one Clydesdale mare was so weak she collapsed in front of them and a vet was called (see smaller photo above "Sick Clydesdale - 3rd June 2006"). This horse was put down in front of their eyes.
The RSPCA had been dealing with this case involving over 30 horses since March this year. The property in question is obviously that of an animal horder. There are also over 100 geese and numerous other animals there. Some of these animals were not contained to her property but were scattered in various places as well as on the hoarder's second unoccupied property near by.

The vet diagnosed red worm from the blood sample taken from the Clydesdale euthanased on June 3. An infestation of red worm was then used to explain the poor condition of the horses on the property and why they hadn't improved. The RSPCA put another compliance notice (there have been several notices given to the hoarder) on the property after the red worm diagnosis. ALV at this point stepped back and assumed the horses would now be attended to properly.

White Mare 22nd Aug 2006 .
WHITE MARE - 22nd August 2006. Photo Patty Mark
This horse was very clearly in poor condition, once again, with access to only low-grade straw (note the protruding ribs and hip bones). She has since been removed from the property by persons unknown and was left anonymously at a horse sanctuary where she is receiving excellent care and has improved dramatically in a very short space of time, going from a rating of 1 to 2.5 on the horse standard scale in just 3 weeks. This hilights the unacceptable care they have been receiving over the past 8 months

However Kay kept contacting Patty with concerns for the horses, including four horses seen wandering down a ravine that runs along the back of several neighbours properties that adjoin the hoaders property. One of these horses was allegedly very weak. Neighbors were putting feed out for these horses when they did wander near their property. Concern was so serious for their condition that Patty rang the RSPCA and emailed them in early July [click here to read letter] concerning these horses, especially the one the locals felt would die soon if something wasn't done. Patty has never received a reply to this email. Neighbors then let Patty know that the RSPCA did send an inspector up to get the horse out of the ravine. So, again ALV let the RSPCA continue on with their job and backed off. Then to Patty's grief and utter frustration, she received an email from the local complainant on Sunday night August 20 saying no, the horse was still in the ravine and she was near death. Patty, along with Dave and ALV secretary Erik Gorton then went to Tolmie on August 22 with the express purpose of getting this horse out of the ravine and to veterinary care.

When attending in Tolmie on Tuesday August 22, Patty and the ALV team viewed many horses and spoke with two neighbours. Patty also took numerous photographs of any horses they could find on the various properties that day and one they found in the ravine (not the one near death). A very ill and emaciated Clydesdale was photographed in a small yard on a neighbor's property (see main photo above "Clydesdale Mare - 22nd August 2006"). This photograph was shown to the neighbour who had been witnessing and feeding the horses down the ravine over the past two months; she identified this horse as the one she saw deteriorating in the ravine. Patty was later told by Kay, that yet another neighbor in utter desperation had rung the DPI (Department of Primary Industry) on Friday, August 18 to save this animal. The emaciated Clydesdale was then seen in this small yard on the following day Saturday August 19. (It is not known by ALV who got the horse out of the ravine and put her into the yard). Patty then emailed the President of the RSPCA Dr Hugh Wirth with her concerns on this matter and lack of proper action by the RSPCA [click here to read letter]. This email also didn't receive a reply and sadly the mare who had been down the ravine was in such poor condition that the RSPCA claim she was euthanased on August 24. The RSPCA state she was a very 'old' horse, however the locals dispute this and say she was only around five years old (clydesdales can live to 30).

Nine horses have died to date
ALV claim there are simply too many ill animals needing attention on this property for the hoarder to properly care for and thus the animals are in dire circumstances. The local vet has put down two horses and seven others have allegedly died since March. Proper procedures for dealing with red worm infestation are not being done. Drenching is too severe for horses in this condition. Any horse suspected of red worm in poor condition should be treated as thus:

Proper Treatment of Horses infected with Red Worm

  1. Stable the sick and infested animal
  2. Do not drench, this will kill a weakened horse
  3. Paste the horse (with Equavet or equivilent for 4 - 6 weeks
  4. Collect the horse's manure DAILY and dispose of it. do this for 12 months, do not let the horse come in contact with it's infested droppings.
  5. Start out by feeding a handful only of hard feed 2-3 times a day for a week, then build up feed after that
  6. Have lots of fresh water always available

The ALV team didn't witness any of the animals, including the very ill Clydesdale, in a stable. The winter in the high country is extremely cold and many of the ill horses were just left to roam with piles of straw scattered here and there for them to eat. ALV did not witness any food in the ravine for the horses. Manure droppings were everywhere, including several in the small enclosure with the weak Clydesdale on August 22. Neighbours were also threatening to start shooting her geese as they too were roaming all over the place and were not contained to her property and breeding was continuing. They also suspected the geese were eating some of the food left for the horses.

Unbelievably the RSPCA are now claiming that Patty did not take the photos on the date she has said she did and that she is distributing misinformation to the public [click here to read letter]. They even claim that an article in the Herald Sun on August 30 that featured a photograph Patty took on August 22 of a very emaciated grey mare heavily pregnant was not taken at this time, but several months prior?! Patty immediately requested the RSPCA to remove this lie from their website and to stop sending emails of this nature to the public [click here to read letter].

Meanwhile many dedicated horse lovers and groups around Australia are gathering in sincere concern for the well-being of these horses and they have held demonstrations at both the RSPCA on August 27 and another in the town of Mansfield on Saturday September 2.