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Seven horses nearly ran onto the Dartford Crossing as the number of dead and abandoned animals rise in Kent

PUBLISHED: 12:51 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:51 11 April 2013

Wayne May says he regularly finds horse skeletons, including those of foals

Wayne May says he regularly finds horse skeletons, including those of foals

Archant

The worsening problem of abandoned and mistreated horses around Dartford and north Kent is not only tragic animal abuse but also a serious risk to humans.

This horse was in such a bad state that it was put to sleep at the side of the road in NorthfleetThis horse was in such a bad state that it was put to sleep at the side of the road in Northfleet

Sitting among a pile of bones, animal charity worker, Wayne May, says he has seen a drastic increase in the number of horse call-outs in recent months.

Discovering malnourished animals, skeletons and rotting carcasses is now part of his day job with Dartford-based organisation Artisan Rarebreeds.

Last month Wayne worked with the Highways Agency and the police to stop seven horses from running on to junction 1a of the M25 at the Dartford Crossing.

Wayne finds skeletons and carcacess which are a threat to human healthWayne finds skeletons and carcacess which are a threat to human health

“I’ve never known anything like it in more than 20 years,” says Wayne. “We did a count and there are more than 300 horses around Stone and Dartford.

“Many of the fields around here lead on to major roads and motorways. 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.”

A notice from Dartford Council about the illegal horsesA notice from Dartford Council about the illegal horses

During the whole of last year Wayne attended 28 calls to abandoned horses. So far this year he has attended 88 incidents.

The recession and the winter have both played a part in the increasing number of abandoned animals.

“It’s becoming more and more expensive to keep horses,” Wayne explains. “I just wish these people would have the common sense to give their horses away or call an animal charity. Instead they let them get into an embarrassing state or they can’t afford the vet bills so they just dump them.

“It’s impossible to know who is doing this, it could be anybody. We have tried stakeouts but they don’t work. You can go a couple of weeks without seeing a horse and we just don’t have the resources.”

The abandoned horses are often mixed in fields among those which have owners, causing more difficulties.

The RSCPA is aware of the problem but will only attend to an animal that is injured or where there is a concern for its welfare.

RSPCA spokeswoman for the South East, Klare Kennett, said: “We know there are responsible owners trying to do their best for their horses, but we also know there is a sector of irresponsible owners who are not, and that is of great concern.”

For more information visit the British Horse Society’s website at www.bhs.org.uk, call the police on 101 or contact the RSPCA.

■ Let us know your views on this issue by emailing kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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