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An animal charity is warning that the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis could leave horses in Lichfield and Burntwood at risk of neglect or being abandoned.
The RSPCA says it has already received 49 equine-related reports across Staffordshire since the COVID-19 lockdown began – the highest of any region in the UK.
The charity said an economic downturn could create a new crisis similar to that in the aftermath of the global financial crash which saw horse owners unable to afford to care for their animals.
Christine McNeil, the RSPCA’s national equine inspectors co-ordinator, said:
“This is a truly worrying time for equine charities – we still haven’t got a handle on the repercussions of the current horse crisis, and it now looks like the worst is yet to come.
“In April 2011, before the effects of the 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.
“By May 2012, the number of horses in our care had leapt to 600.
“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.”Christine McNeil, RSPCA
The charity said the crisis had impacted on its own ability to take in those animals in need of care as fundraising activities have been curtailed.
“With such a huge number of horses in our care, and so many in private boarding, at great cost, we have already had to adapt how we try to help as many horses as we can.
“For example, several ‘herds’ of horses in need are being cared for in situ with our officers visiting regularly to feed and care for them, until we can find spaces in one of our centres for them, or funds to transport them to private boarding.
“The public’s help is absolutely vital to keep the RSPCA afloat during this extremely difficult time.
“We can’t stress how much we need loving homes for our horses and ponies, and we are urging those with experience of horses to please consider rehoming one of our wonderful rescue horses.”Christine McNeil, RSPCA