Rise in reports of loose horses as rescue centre struggle to cope with ‘overpopulation crisis’

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More than 160 reports of loose horses have been made in Wakefield in the space of four years.

Results from a Freedom of Information request revealed the local council received an average of three calls a month from people concerned about a horse’s welfare between 2014 and 2017.

The British Horse Society (BHS), says that the problem is widespread and stems from owners and rescue centres struggling to cope with an “overpopulation crisis” of horses.

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The council spent more than £2,700 taking care of seven horses which had been abandoned during the time period.

The high costs involved were because some of the animals needed darting to sedate them. This process requires a vet to be present at all times.

Gemma Stanford, director of welfare at the BHS said: “The UK is currently suffering an equine overpopulation crisis with thousands of horses in desperate need of care. Rescue centres cannot cope with the rising numbers, resulting in horses being passed from pillar to post for tiny sums of money or simply being abandoned and left to die.

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“The BHS believe prevention is better than cure and we promote horse welfare by educating, advising and supporting horse owners, in order to reduce cases of neglect or abandonment.”

The charity is coming to Wakefield in October to run its travelling “healthcare clinic” where horses who’ve had little access to treatment and care can be looked after.

Part of this involves the horse being microchipped, which makes it easier to trace its owner if they are separated.

The figures suggest that the authorities are beginning to get on top of the problem.

Of the 163 stray horse reports made in Wakefield during the four years, only 60 were made between 2015 and 2017.

Glynn Humphries, the council’s director for environment and communities said: “When stray horses are reported our focus is to ensure they are safe and are not a danger to others, such as road users, or to themselves.

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“Our focus is to find the owner. This may involve working with landowners and the police, depending on the circumstances and whether the horse is found on council, land, private land or close to a road.

“If the owner cannot be found then the horse is taken to safety and is cared for.

“We are pleased we are dealing with fewer stray horses, possibly the amount of horses that are microchipped helps us to identify owners more quickly.”