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MP questions why RSPCA "allowed causeway horses to suffer"

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

  • Stranded during the floods

  • Causeway horses getting help from local residents

  • Causeway horses

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GLOUCESTER'S MP has questioned the RSPCA's handling of the horses caught in flooding.

Volunteers feared the herd would die if they didn't help – four foals were found dead there and the RSPCA said three had died of salmonella.

The 60 horses were moved from the meadow between St Oswald's and the east channel of the River Severn, but the RSPCA was criticised by some volunteers for not acting strongly enough.

Now Conservative MP Richard Graham has compared the RSPCA's handling of the situation, to its prosecution of a hunt which helped him during his election campaign.

"This is an interesting and sad story which raises a number of questions," said Mr Graham. "It appears that the RSPCA inspectors were taking a slightly odd position in monitoring the situation at a place where four horses died.

"Most people would have asked if the RSPCA could not have done something.

"Spending more than £300,000 on a fox hunting prosecution is something the new chief executive of the RSPCA is entitled to do.

"People like my mother-in-law living off the basic state pension, and giving a few pounds a week to the RSCPA would be horrified at the amount that is going on a court case for allowing a fox hunt."

He suggested the charity splits to allow it to pursue the hunting issue and other animal welfare concerns.

Last week, environment minister Owen Paterson indicated it would be unlikely moves to repeal the fox hunting ban would come in 2013.

Mr Graham, who was helped by Heythrop hunt to leaflet during the 2010 election campaign, would not be drawn on how he would vote.

An RSPCA spokesman defended its position and said the horses' owners should have looked in to the land's propensity to flood.

"We do not distinguish between a pet, for example, or a fox, but strive to prevent animal suffering as is our remit and as our supporters and animal lovers would expect," he said

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  • Charlespk  |  February 22 2013, 8:32PM

    Another vindictive RSPCA case An RSPCA private prosecution brought against a Cheshire hunt supporter, his partner and their nineteen year old daughter has collapsed on the first morning of a scheduled three day trial at Crewe Magistrates'Court. Keith Watson, a farmer, Tanya Norlander and Hannah Watson (pictured left. Photo by Paul Cooper/ Daily Telegraph) had been accused of interference with a badger sett on 16th February last year when Mr Watson was assisting the Cheshire Hunt . On the first morning of the trial RSPCA prosecutors admitted, despite knowing all the facts of the case for over a year, that there was no realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence and the case was dismissed. In March last year Mr Watson's farm was raided by RSPCA employees and police officers who searched outbuildings and barns removing mole traps, clothes and Mr Watson's legally held firearms. The costs of the three defendants, which are likely to exceed £10,000, were awarded from 'Central Funds' which means the taxpayer will pay for the defendants costs as well as those of the aborted three day trial. http://tinyurl.com/bd7npwc (open in a new window)

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  • Chrissie50  |  January 18 2013, 2:52PM

    I was visiting family in Littledean, Cinderford end of last month and again I saw the same horse in the field opposite the Old Jail standing in 6-8" of mud with absolutely no shelter. Although it had a horse blanket on, it seemed to be in distress. I visit on a regular basis of once a month, it has only in the last 6 months had a blanket and this I believe is because someone reported it. This horse has been left in the most appauling condition in the last two years. There was another horse in the same condition in the field which died. This is its 2nd winter in awfull conditions and the owner does not appear to care about it. I find this very distresting as I think it will go the way as the other horse. Is there anything anyone can do to save this horses fate? Horse lover

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  • MrGarnet  |  January 11 2013, 6:58PM

    Not at all surprising is it! "Tim Bonner, campaigns director for the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA had "minimal interest" in prosecuting the "clear animal cruelty" exhibited in the programme. "You've got the RSPCA spending £330,000 prosecuting one hunt," he told the Daily Telegraph. "Where as we all know that offences are being carried out openly, blatantly and on a daily basis by other communities, which they have minimal interest in. "Clearly cockfighting is not defensible in any form in terms of wildlife management, it's simply animal cruelty. If the RSPCA was really interested in animal welfare rather than pushing a political agenda, we believe they would have focused their resources on that sort of activity rather than the Heythrop Hunt." The documentary filmed a gang of men deer coursing, where bets are placed and dogs race each other in a bid to catch and kill their prey. Screeching and whimpering noises can be heard in the film as one dog eventually reaches the deer and catches it in its jaws. In another scene a young boy is seen kicking a bird as it lies dying, having been shot by the family because of poor health. Mr Bonner claimed the "only reason" the RSPCA chose to prosecute the Heythrop hunt was because it operated in Mr Cameron's constituency. "The real standards are about people, not animals," he added. "You're choosing to pick on one group rather than another. In doing so you're ignoring real issues of animal welfare." http://tinyurl.com/bapnb8r

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  • eyeopener  |  January 07 2013, 11:44PM

    @ TimMessanger While your preparing your denial would you also like to explain how the so called PUBLICITY photos were the same as those produced in court, and explain how the video is the same as that produced in court? The video footage produced in court featured locations, buildings and vehicles at the farm. Do you not think the defendents wouldn't have had the wit to stand up in court and say "thats not my farm gov!" Do you not think the police who attended to support the raid, wouldn't have said "This isn't the same farm we attended, and we have never seen those animals before?" If you can plausibly deny all that, then I will take my hat off to you!

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  • eyeopener  |  January 07 2013, 11:09PM

    @ TimMessanger The video was shot on the farm at the time of the raid and the police were in attendance. An account confirming all this was given by an inspector from a different charity. I provided independent links one being from the Daily Mail. If your that much in denial no amount of evidence will satisfy you. As for the Hethrop Hunt, I have provided the footage that was shown in court and no amount of denial will change the facts shown in the footage and the guilty verdict. "They are PUBLICITY photos and nothing more." Get over it Tim, are you suggesting that the horses posed for these photos for some equine David Bailey? Some of the horses starved to death, and others decomposed where they lay. You were extremely selective about the details you provided for the 'RSPCA and the Spindles Farm Case.' Although court ordered the horses to be returned; after the family appealed their sentences in May 2010: James Gray, his wife and daughters all had their convictions upheld. James Junior was acquitted of two offences, but was found guilty of all the remaining offences. James Gray absconded court while awaiting sentencing on 12 May 2010 and went on the run, with a warrant issued for his arrest. He was arrested 2 weeks later on 26 May, during a random spot check by police between junctions 4a and 5 on the M5 near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. This is not quite the result your careful editing gave the impression it was. http://tinyurl.com/b3hegbb Deny all that if you can.

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  • TimMessanger  |  January 07 2013, 10:51PM

    eyeopener open your eyes! The pictures you have seen are those from the R$PCA and no one else! They are PUBLICITY photos and nothing more. How many charges have they made against you favourite hunt? How many guilty pleas and how many guilty verdicts? and how may NOT GUILTY or DROPPED? Please list ALL the numbers or shut the ? up and wind your neck in, your answer if truthful WILL make you look like a fool!

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  • eyeopener  |  January 07 2013, 7:51PM

    Richard Graham's claims are in sharp contrast with the facts. Ben Falconers article gave a far more balanced view and was available for Richard Graham to read if he had wanted the facts. Several different independent sources tell a different tale from Richards. Note the positive involvement of the RSPCA throughout: "Earlier this month, over 60 horses were found roaming under the Over Causeway near Gloucester. With the wettest year on record, floodwaters have affected many parts of the UK, including this herd of horses. Cut off by the floods, the Gloucester horses were without food, clean water and living in dangerous conditions. A group of local animal lovers created a campaign under the name of the Friends of the Causeway Horses, organising care for the stranded horses via Facebook and Twitter. They also liaised, and continue to liaise, with the RSPCA. Thankfully, the majority of the herd have been moved to a safer location, believed to be in Wales. However, there is growing local concern about the remaining animals on the site, which has been reported as a number between six and seventeen. It is thought that the animals have been without fresh water or food for days. This lack of care has unfortunately meant that four of the remaining horses have been found dead. The RSPCA have said that three of the foals died from salmonella and had to be put down by the vet but the cause of death is currently unknown for the fourth horse. The RSPCA spokesperson have stressed that the foals did not drown in the floodwaters, but rather through unsafe conditions. The owners of the horses have been advised on how to care for the horses by an RSPCA inspector. The Friends of the Causeway Horses have reported that the condition of the remaining horses is unsatisfactory. Many of the horses have ailments including malnourishment, lameness, mud fever and one horse is missing an eye." Amongst those giving similar accounts are: FOREST HOUSE VETS http://tinyurl.com/ba2vt6q BBC GLOUCESTERSHIRE http://tinyurl.com/bksdnco MRCVS http://tinyurl.com/af7dja9 Perhaps the RSPCA might have the last word. "Chief inspector with the RSPCA, Lee Hopgood, said: "They moved in three weeks before the floods started. "I don't think they were particularly well briefed by the people who rented the land to them but I have said to them they should have done the research before moving 60 horses on to this farm." The RSPCA were on hand to check the horses over. The majority were found to be okay, considering the conditions they had been living in; however, three foals which were stranded were found to be suffering from salmonella and had to be put down." Above an extract from MRCVS. Launched in March 2010, mrcvs.co.uk aims to provide the veterinary profession with a website fulfilling all of its needs and is specifically designed to accommodate veterinary surgeons, practice managers, veterinary nurses and those interested in an array of different areas, mrcvs.co.uk is the online resource for all things vet related. http://tinyurl.com/af7dja9 All these accounts differ to Conservative MP Richard Graham's but then they didn't owe a debt of gratitude to the Heythrop Hunt did they?

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  • Raccoon  |  January 07 2013, 6:30PM

    Now I'm puzzled. How could the scumbags in the Spindles Farm case be allowed to have the remaining horses returned to them? I thought that they had been banned from keeping horses because of the suffering and deaths of so many.

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  • eyeopener  |  January 07 2013, 5:50PM

    @ TimMessanger You said: "EQUINE LAWYERS HAIL AN HISTORIC VICTORY AGAINST RSPCA ALL SPINDLES FARM "RESCUE" HORSES TO BE RETURNED OR SOLD" Daily Mail Article Court shown shocking images of animals left to starve to death on family-run farm http://tinyurl.com/a7ufg5w">http://tinyurl.com/a7ufg5w Tim I have seen many of your posts, over quite a period of time, and although I often disagree with you, I am sure that you are basically a decent person. It looks on this occasion, as if you have been sucked in by a blog. Blogs are written by people with opinions. They are not the same as journalists who usually check their facts, and have an investment in their own credibility. We all know that even those articles can present problems. This link is to a Daily Mail article and the photographs of the SPINDLES FARM horses are horrifying. At the end are more photographs and a video. All are sickening. The photographs include one of a mound of horse skulls and bones lies piled up by a wall on the farm. Another of the carcass of a horse has been left to rot covered in tree branches and rubbish. The blog you have quoted must have known all this, and yet they have still put out hysterical press releases. How after looking at these truly shocking photos could anyone take anything that blog said seriously again? Photographs do not lie. The court heard two vets, with more than 40 years' experience, describe the scenes as the worst animal cruelty they had ever seen when they raided the farm. I am not out to score points on this. The photographs are absolutely horrific. Next time, please do your research because if I was able to find this so could you. Court shown shocking images of animals 'left to starve to death on family-run farm' http://tinyurl.com/a7ufg5w">http://tinyurl.com/a7ufg5w magistrates Court http://tinyurl.com/a5tqygs RSCPA footage from Spindle Farm in Amersham http://tinyurl.com/aaq44vu World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White Amersham horse case eye witness account – YouTube footage http://tinyurl.com/pe85ok You have heard the clamour from those who want the RSPCA to be neutered to hinder the RSPCA's ability to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals though fox hunting. Now that you have seen these photographs and the video footage from the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare surely if you have a heart, you will instead of hampering the RSPCA want to donate and help prevent more animal cruelty. The RSPCA have been overwhelmed with the response they've had from people wishing to donate after the Heythrop Hunt convictions and they now have a special ringfenced fund for prosecutions if anybody is interested in donating for this. The telephone number is 0300123100.

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  • Charlespk  |  January 06 2013, 10:10PM

    People break the law every hour of every day. But collusion is a very serious charge. Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice! Common law. A bit of jail time for all concerned will bring some humility and concern for humans back.

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