Animal charity warns on dangers of tethering

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THE RSPCA is warning the public of the dangers of tethering horses and ponies as the number of calls the charity receives looks set to rise by more than 20 per cent.

In 2010, the RSPCA received 5,998 calls from members of the public concerned about the welfare of tethered horses and ponies, an increase from 5,323 in 2009.

By the end of June 2011, 3,642 calls had already been received, with a similar number expected in the last six months of the year – an increase of 21 per cent compared to 2010.

It’s estimated that there are at least 3,500 tethered horses at any one time in the UK. Although it is not against the law to tether horses and ponies, the RSPCA does not think it is a good way of keeping them.

This is because it is extremely difficult to provide for tethered animals’ needs and meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, including the provision of adequate shelter, grazing, companionship, physical safety and allowing the animal to express normal behaviour.

There have also been many tragic incidents where tethered horses have been injured or even died as a result of being tethered.

RSPCA equine rehoming officer Sally Learoyd said: “Tethering can seriously compromise a horse’s well-being in many ways and it is very difficult to do well.

“More horse owners may be tethering their animals because they are struggling financially. However this is not a low-cost or low-maintenance way of keeping a horse and is not considered good practice.

“It can also be extremely dangerous for the animal - we have seen ponies strangled to death by their own tether and with permanent neck, leg and hoof injuries, all as a result of the animals being tethered.”

If you see a tethered horse and are concerned for its welfare, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300-1234999. Please remember that the tethering of horses is not illegal in itself.

Further advice and on tethering and general information about caring for horses and ponies can be found on the RSPCA website: www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/horses/health