The RSPCA has revealed concern about the increasing number of horses who have been neglected and ‘dumped to die’ in Kent this winter.
In what it describes as an 'equine crisis', the animal welfare charity said it has received a spate of calls about distressing equine incidents in the county in the past few months.
Officers have described "heartbreaking scenes" after finding horses - dead or dying - left in terrible conditions by the side of roads, in woodland and sometimes dumped under fly-tipped debris as if they were rubbish.
Of the 38 incidents they have been called to, 13 horses were found already dead, and 25 were collapsed and dying - six in such a poorly state that nothing could be done to save them and 19 able to be rescued, cared for and treated.
The RSPCA is urging anyone who has information about people dumping and neglecting horses to call them on 0300 1234 999, in complete confidence.
WARNING Readers may find the following picture and details distressing:
- A dead horse found dumped in Bull Hill, Horton Kirby, Dartford, on Tuesday, 21 February
- The bodies of two horses found dumped on Beech Road, Kingshill in West Malling on Friday, 17 February - one a year-old dark Bay mare with white socks, wrapped in a blue horse rug in woodland
- A dead horse was tied to a tree by the church in Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells on Friday, 17 February
- Six dying horses found in the Dartford area on Thursday, 16 February. As this is an ongoing investigation, the RSPCA cannot provide further details.
- A skewbald mare and her foal were found dumped in Wouldham Road, Rochester on Thursday, 16 February in an extremely poorly state. Both were emaciated and weak. The filly is still in RSPCA care, but sadly the mare died a few days later.
- A piebald horse was found dead and dumped on the side of the road in Eglantine, Horton Kirby on Tuesday, 14 February
- A young piebald pony was found collapsed and dying in Yalding, Maidstone on 28 January. She was so unwell she could not be saved and had to be put to sleep to end her suffering.
- The body of a horse dumped underneath a pile of planks in a field in Horton Kirby, Dartford of wood on 2 January - next to a can of petrol container. We assume that the intention may have been to set the body on fire (pictured). A few days later six more horses were rescued from the same location - all still in RSPCA care.
- The body of the dead pony was dumped on a woodland path is the Wateringbury, Maidstone, in the first week of January