The Animal Welfare Act 2006 section 9 clearly sets out minimum standards of care for all owned animals. They must be fed, watered, given shelter and allowed to exhibit their natural behaviours. If these actions are not in evidence the Act also describes the various punishments liable to the owners. Section 4 details the offence of allowing "unnecessary suffering."
In the part of England where I live many horses are often to be seen on all sorts of wasteland and roadside verges unfed, unwatered, with no shelter in all sorts of extreme weather, and worst of all, often tethered on very short ropes. People I talk to in other parts of the country tell me it is the same where they live.
Yet nobody actually does anything about this despite many, many repeated calls to the RSPCA and our local Police Animal Welfare Team who seem reluctant to remove animals or even prosecute the owners, who are WELL KNOWN.
The gypsies seem to want to have horses as a symbol of status and wealth yet treat them so badly you'd think they'd been abandoned.
Concerned members of the public are told by the authorities NOT to feed them or they cannot be classified as 'neglected'. Often by the time any help is really necessary it is too late.
Prevention is better than cure; the animals should not be allowed to sink into a state of acute suffering before aid is forthcoming. They end up dying or being put down at public expense because that is who funds the RSPCA and the Police - certainly the gypsies do not pay up. Their once valued horse is now expendable!
Why are the simple provisions set out in law to deal with those who neglect and mistreat animals not acted upon by the authorities? The gypsies "are a law unto themselves, you can't touch them" is the most common answer.
Whatever the reason it is high time there was a change of attitude not only on the part of those who inspect, uphold and enforce the law but also by those so-called 'travellers' who own animals and do not take good enough care of them.
It is also the law that all horses must have microchip ID and an animal passport. You can bet that the gypsy horses have neither of these, nor will they be prosecuted on this front either.
Please contact the Director of the RSPCA, your local Police and Crime Comissioners and the Secretary of State in the House of Commons and demand that they enforce the exisiting law to put and end to these poor animals' suffering.
On behalf of the animals I thank you.