1. ITV Report

Rescue horse has new life with police

Bert the rescue horse now has a new lease of life in the police Photo: RSPCA

A horse rescued from Britain's worst animal cruelty case has a new life working for the police.

Bert was among 115 starving and dying horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from Spindles Farm at Amersham in Buckinghamshire four years ago.

Back then he did not have a name - just a number - the number four.

Rotting bodies of maltreated animals were left to decompose among living ones. Some animals were so malnourished they could not stand.

More than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys were removed from the site by the RSPCA and the Norfolk charities Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare. Bert was one of 65 offered a home at Redwings.

Kirsty Withnall was the RSPCA Inspector who helped to rescue Bert and has now seen him again for the first time she's seen him in four years.

"In the same barn he was in there was a couple of dead. He was living in filthy conditions. He was up to his own knees in faeces . He had no water or food. I would have walked straight past him. He looks completely different. It's fantastic to see him as he is."

– Kirsty Withnall, RSPCA Inspector

Bert is now six and has become a police horse patrolling South Norfolk in a bid to clampdown on rural crime. Following his rescue and recovery Bert was ready to be re-homed through the Redwings Guardianship scheme and he is now patrolling the streets with his Guardian owner Special Constable Nicola Rix. The duo have been on patrol as part of Norfolk Constabulary's successful Operation Randall.

"It's appalling. He wasn't one of the worst horses that was there but out of this tragedy I have got myself an amazing horse."

– Nicola Rix, Special Constable

Bert was one of the lucky ones. Over thirty horses died in the horror scene at Spindles Farm. The horse trader was jailed for 24 weeks for the neglect which was described as being " distressing beyond measure.

Of the 115 rescued animals some inevitably died but most like Bert have recovered fully from the grotesque treatment that shocked the world.