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Farningham dead horse is tip of abandoned animal 'crisis' in Kent

PUBLISHED: 10:17 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:18 20 March 2014

Abandoned horses along the Saxon Way in Gravesend

Abandoned horses along the Saxon Way in Gravesend

Archant

When residents saw a dead horse dumped near homes in Farningham last week, they were shocked but not surprised.

Wayne May with a horse that was in such a bad way it was put to sleep at the side of the road in NorthfleetWayne May with a horse that was in such a bad way it was put to sleep at the side of the road in Northfleet

The foal, estimated to be about eight months old, was not the first to be found in Maplescombe Lane and the plight of neglected and abandoned horses in the area is becoming an increasingly visible problem.

The RSPCA was called to the scene but it was too late to save the animal.

“We have been to have a look but it is unclear what caused the animal to die,” a spokesman said.

“It is very worrying to think about the potential welfare issues which may have led to this death.”

Wayne regularly finds horse and foal skeletonsWayne regularly finds horse and foal skeletons

She said the charity was stretched to breaking point with only 125 places in its equine centres but more than 800 horses in its care.

“The country is currently in the grip of a horse crisis, with the RSPCA and other horse welfare charities struggling to cope with the numbers of abandoned, neglected and abused horses,” she said.

Evidence of the crisis can be seen widely in north Kent, where fields have become the favourite dumping grounds of people wanting to offload animals.

In August, a mare was left abandoned in the sweltering heat in Gravesend with a dead foal.

World Horse Welfare field officer for Kent Alana Chapman made the gruesome discovery along the Saxon Shore Way in Gravesend.

The mare, who had a broken pelvis, was put to sleep at the scene to end her suffering.

Last summer, the eight-mile-long grassland was littered with more than 100 abandoned and neglected horses running wild.

With no one to feed them and no vets to provide care, many die of starvation or illness.

Another charity, Dartford-based Artisan Rarebreeds, also handles calls.

Animal worker Wayne May said the organisation counted more than 300 horses around Stone and Dartford in the past.

“The situation isn’t getting any better,” he added.

“This is a serious accident waiting to happen.

“At first it was quite upsetting but now we have got so used to it that I’m sad to say it’s becoming the norm.

“They are all over the place. We have people calling us up because they’ve found a dead horse in a field. They are a health risk to humans.”

The RSPCA dealt with 3,871 abandoned and mistreated horses in just one year.

Crisis meetings have been organised by the charity and other organisations to work out how to cope with increasing numbers of dumped horses.

The RSPCA said ponies can be bought for as little as £5 in some places because prices have crashed in the saturated market.

The additional cost of keeping horses, amounting to thousands of pounds every year in vet bills, shelter and food, can become too much.

Charities attempt to re-home rescued horses where they can but demand and cost means councils sometimes put the animals down.

Anyone with information on the dead horse is urged to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018. For more information visit rspca.org.uk.

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