RSPCA watch dog: RSPCA management fails animals despite the hard work of volunteers

mail iconA Horse Being Neglected
19 March 2009

I've heard people say that while the RSPCA is generally good for small animal cases and they're happy getting cats out of trees etc, they really aren't that great with large animals, especially those related to food production.

We've had two dealings with them and they have both been rather negative. Maybe I'm just having bad luck, but I must say after my latest experience I won't be at ease contacting them again on large animal issues.

Our first was reporting a case where four tiny dairy calves less than a fortnight old had died of exposure after being left in an unsheltered yard all night during a blistering rainstorm that had been forecast well ahead. We were on a walking tour and saw their little carcasses lying on the ground near a group of about ten huddled, shivering calves that had survived the night. The yard was near buildings including sheds and the main farmhouse. It would have been so easy to make sure they were all well sheltered before the storm.

When we contacted the RSPCA, they didn't want to know about it because the farm was "too far away" from their headquarters and because they apparently have a policy of no longer getting involved in the countless cases of deaths from hypothermia amongst farm animals with inadequate access to shelter.

Some years later we contacted them again about an old horse in our neighbourhood who had been infested with ectoparasites for months, had terribly neglected feet with long, extremely jagged toes and painful hoof cracks, and whose body condition was deteriorating rapidly as the pasture dried up in our Australian summer. This was at an agistment paddock where other people were hand-feeding their riding horses with extra hay and concentrates as the grass dried up, to keep them in good condition. A lot of people got very upset to see this old horse NOT getting the extra attention needed during this time, and he just rapidly melted away to a condition score of about 2 before the owners finally came in to feed him - with one feed a day of mainly chaff.

With winter approaching and having already discovered this thin old fellow shivering in a copse of trees during a rainstorm with neither sufficient fat to keep him warm, nor a rug to help him out, we finally contacted the RSPCA. Their officer got back to us saying that "he was an old horse and that kind of condition was to be expected," which is an absolute bollocks. We know more than a dozen old horses who are fed and sheltered appropriately for their age and in excellent condition. Relatives of mine have rescued neglected horses in very poor condition and brought them back to looking well with an appropriate feeding regimen, and that's not happening for this poor horse who's always making big eyes when other owners are handfeeding their horses on the same property. But with the RSPCA, the owner and the agistment manager all using age as an excuse, what can one do?

Very disheartening.

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