Almost 1,000 horses were rescued by the RSPCA in England and Wales last year, the highest number for four years.
The animals are regularly being “fly-tipped” along with rubbish and left to die, according to the animal welfare charity.
In one “utterly heartbreaking” case, a mare was tied to a post and left to give birth, RSPCA chief inspector Sam Garvey told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. The mother and foal both died.
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“We’ve had horses literally dumped down dirt tracks along with the rubbish. So they have taken their rubbish out to flytip... and at the same time took the sick and injured horse along with it,” Garvey said.
“And we've gone out to calls and not been able to see the horse until we've literally rifled through the rubbish.”
The cost of going to a vet for an ill or injured animal appears to be too much for some irresponsible owners, says the charity. Part of the problem is that horses are cheap to buy - with some sold online for as little as £25 - but expensive to keep.
“Despite the efforts of the RSPCA and other equine welfare organisations, the crisis shows no sign of easing, with huge pressures on the charity to find stables and funding to keep the large number of horses it has had to take in,” reports news site Devon Live.
The RSPCA secured 25% more convictions related to horse cruelty and neglect in 2017 than in 2015. However, it still receives an average of 80 calls a day from people concerned about horse welfare.
“Up and down England and Wales, horses are being found sick, dying or sometimes dead, and it is frequently the case that they have been abandoned and left for dead,” said RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil. “This is upsettingly very common and it’s a massive issue.”
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