Belfast Telegraph

Close to death: the emaciated horses found starving on farm

By Patrice Dougan

A shocking case of cruelty has horrified an animal sanctuary after two thoroughbred horses were found almost starved to death.

The horses were so thin they both registered zero on the equine body condition score scale when they were rescued from a farm.

The sanctuary also saved two goats and a number of calves — but sadly the remains of several other animals were discovered on the premises by Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary (CLAS).

The grim find came after the group was contacted by police in Lisburn about a reported case of animal neglect.

The charity has now taken the horses to stables at an undisclosed location where they are being nursed back to health, although it is not yet known whether they will recover.

CLAS said both of the thoroughbred mares were suffering from worms, rain scald and mud fever when they were brought in.

One of the horses, a chestnut mare, is described as being so physically weak that she has difficulty walking.

However, the volunteers at the charity are said to be “amazed at her determination to survive”.

The horses have been put on a refeeding scheme to bring them back to health, and blood and faecal samples have been taken by a vet.

Lyn Friel, the charity’s founder and manager, said: “The prognosis is uncertain at the moment as the damage to organs and muscles can take weeks, months or longer to become apparent.

“However, at present they are receiving constant intensive nursing and ongoing assessment.”

She said the rescue of neglected animals is becoming more frequent.

“We see this type of situation on a worryingly regular basis,” she

said. “The welfare calls to the charity have increased by a staggering 300% over the last couple of years.”

And she made a plea for funding to help it continue its good work, saying the charity was at “breaking point”.

“We are the only horse welfare and educational charity based in Northern Ireland but receive no Government assistance or funding,” she said. “We are being contacted on average six times daily by the public, councils and PSNI asking us to take in abandoned, neglected and unwanted horses of all ages, breeds and abilities.

“There is nowhere for these horses to go but we believe that every horse deserves a chance.“

Animal rescue is costly and the charity currently has outgoings of around £12,000 per month.

Factfile

Stark stories of animal neglect and cruelty have hit the headlines in recent months. In January the Belfast Telegraph reported that vets were forced to put down a female Rottweiler which had been abandoned and left to fend for itself. The dog was handed into a Coleraine vet weighing less than half its normal body weight and with bones protruding from its hips and ribcage. Last November police rescued more than 60 starving animals from horrific conditions on a Co Antrim farm.

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