In 2019, the charity received reports of more than 5,236 incidents involving horses in the north of England, 632 in Lancashire, and by the end of the year it had nearly 900 in its care, leaving its rescue centres full and funding hundreds more in private boarding.
Now the charity fears much worse is to come if, as expected, the covid crisis sparks a UK and global recession.
The RSPCA is appealing for donations to help it prepare for an influx of horses and ponies in need of help.
Christine McNeil, the charity’s National Equine Inspectors Co-ordinator said: “In April 2011, before the effects of the 2008 financial recession had hit, the RSPCA had 290 horses in its care, already more than our official stables could house. The following year, the impact of the crisis really began to hit and our officers were called out every day up and down the country to neglected and abandoned horses.
“Fast-forward to today, and we’re caring for 927 horses – that’s three times the amount since the crisis hit, and we strongly fear that the impact will be even worse this time round.”
The current horse crisis is thought to have been sparked by continued overbreeding, coupled with falling demand for some types of horses, which left a surplus of unwanted animals which have been left dumped like rubbish, sometimes extremely sick or dying, leaving equine charities bursting at the seams with these abandoned animals.
The RSPCA has taken in 82 horses during lockdown already, bringing the total number of horses in the charity’s care to 927. This figure is much more than the charity can care for at its own centres, forcing the charity to pay for three-quarters of horses to be housed at private boarding stables.
The charity spends approximately £5200 per year for the care of each horse taken in, more than £4.8 million each year.
You can donate to the RSPCA at www.rspca.org.uk/covid