For Immediate Release, Tuesday 26 April 2022
RSPCA allegedly let horse starve for 12 months and eat own faeces
A horse at a property in Weston in the Hunter Region of New South Wales was allegedly left to starve for over 12 months and eat his own faeces in a shocking case of neglect that has sparked renewed calls for an overhaul of Australia’s animal protection system.
Jet, a 17-year-old chestnut gelding, was allegedly assessed by the RSPCA NSW over 12 months ago as being underweight with a vet called to provide a health assessment in March 2021. At the time, Jet was diagnosed by the vet in the presence of RSPCA NSW as having a grade 5 heart murmur and in very poor condition.
Jet was allegedly left on the property by RSPCA NSW under their monitoring system for over 12 months before being surrendered to charitable horse rescue Hunter Horse Haven Inc. last week, where an independent vet assessed him as having a body score of zero out of ten.
“The RSPCA considers zero “dead”, so I said it would have to be 0.1,” said Debbie Barber, who is working with other Hunter Horse Haven Inc. volunteers to save Jet’s life.
“He has someone with him 24 hours a day, but it’s still touch and go at the moment and will be for some time”, she said.
“He has multiple health concerns, with the most upsetting one that he has a grade 5-6 systolic heart murmur, with grade 6 being the very worst. In some chronically starved horses with a heart murmur we can provide some healing with weight but I sincerely doubt this one will.”
Ms Barber says Jet was so malnourished that even after being rescued, he continued to eat his own faeces.
“Chronically starved horses are sometimes known to eat their own droppings and Jet even tries to get it back from us as we collect it,” Ms Barber said.
The Animal Justice Party NSW’s Lead Senate Candidate and Hunter local, Darren Brollo, has condemned the RSPCA for failing to protect Jet from unnecessary suffering.
“The fact the RSPCA knew about Jet’s neglect for over 12 months and failed to intervene sufficiently to save the horse from severe emaciation is absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Brollo said.
“This wasn’t a one-off mistake, this was a year of inadequate responses by the RSPCA, and it has resulted in a horse suffering over 12 months of starvation, and years ahead of related health problems – and that’s only if he survives.”
Mr Brollo says the RSPCA’s lack of action is representative of a systemic problem within Australia’s animal protection framework.
“The RSPCA is clearly not equipped to enforce animal cruelty laws,” Mr Brollo said.
“We know that the RSPCA currently successfully prosecutes less than one per cent of the complaints they receive, and that tells you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of having under-resourced charities enforce animal cruelty laws.”
Mr Brollo is calling on the Australian government to establish a national Independent Office of Animal Protection.
“Australians are tired of animal cruelty going unreported and unpunished,” he said.
“If I’m elected I will make sure our government is pushed to overhaul how animal protection legislation is dealt with, and that starts with an Independent Office of Animal Protection.”
Along with Jet’s documentation, Hunter Horse Haven Inc. has documented similar neglect cases over several years, identifying other instances when the RSCPA’s monitoring system has failed horses like Jet resulting in seriously emaciated horses and needless deaths.
“We know this happens every day, and time and time again we find that the RSPCA have failed to enforce adequate animal welfare under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to ensure horses are not starved to the point of no return, horses like Jet,” Ms Barber said.
Despite the RSPCA’s millions of dollars, in the end, it always comes down to us, the little rescues, who step up and save these poor horses’ lives,” she said.
“Why is the RSPCA not being held accountable for the state of the severe emaciation of Jet? Why are they escaping charges of cruelty and neglect when their monitoring of his condition was their responsibility?”
Campaign Director for the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, Elio Celotto, also chimed in after being made aware of the horrific condition the horse has been left in stating “Jet made over $40,000 for his owners and still this is how he ended up. This yet again highlights the use, abuse and discard business model of the racing industry who will wash their hands of any responsibility of Jet due to the horse now being registered as ‘retired’ by the authority. It’s just not good enough.”