Charity’s call over cruelty

Alan Brennan, accused of cruelty to horses, RSPCA case, pictured leaving Wigan Magistrates Court
Alan Brennan, accused of cruelty to horses, RSPCA case, pictured leaving Wigan Magistrates Court

THE RSPCA is citing a tragic Wigan cruelty case as it blasts policing of the horse passport system. The society says three quarters of the horses it takes in do not have passports and are not microchipped, a legal requirement.

It claims a lack of enforcement means that owners don’t keep passports updated and many horses aren’t microchipped or don’t have their up-to-date details registered. This makes it much more difficult to track down those responsible if there are concerns about horses’ welfare.

The concerns were raised following the case of Alan Brennan, 49, who was jailed last month for 12 weeks after neglecting 17 horses in his care.

Brennan, of Abbey Lane, Leigh was responsible for looking after 17 horses which belonged to his partner Stephen Jolly, but left them locked in their stables without food or water and wallowing in their own faeces.

At a hearing at Wigan Magistrates’ Court, justices heard how the RSPCA were called by a member of the public to the paddock on Nel Pan Lane where 17 horses were found on June 12 last year.

Five stallions were found locked in stables with no food or water and wallowing in up to 2ft of their own faeces. They also had overgrown hooves which made it very difficult for them to walk and one had to be put down.

Brennan was jailed for 12 weeks and disqualified from keeping animals for life.

The society confirmed it had received 487 calls in the past three years to RSPCA cruelty line about horse welfare in Wigan borough alone.

RSPCA equine co-ordinator, chief inspector Cathy Hyde, said: “The passport system is failing and we estimate that a shocking 75% of horses coming into RSPCA care are not microchipped.

“Passports are not updated and, without microchipping or a central database, there is no enforcement. Horses can change hands for a small amount of money and end up in the hands of irresponsible owners and traders.

“They can’t be traced back to their owners, making it very difficult to prosecute and try to stop these people keeping horses.”

Our inspectors investigated more than 4,900 complaints involving equines in 2012 and are always working hard to improve the lives of those animals.

“Together with irresponsible breeding, many owners have ended up with too many horses that they either can’t or don’t want to look after. Some dealers have over 2,000 horses, the majority of which will not have passports.

“They need to be made accountable which proper enforcement of the passport system might help with.”