About 50 people gathered together outside Bega Court House on Saturday, February 23 to show their concern and raise awareness about the welfare of a number of horses in the Candelo area which are currently under investigation by the RSPCA.
The group brought along placards and posters and were joined by three Shetland ponies. The protest moved from the Court House to Zingel Place and protesters gave out flyers explaining their concerns to local people. The horses are all in the care of one local person.
The protest group has gathered considerable interest since a Facebook page was started about three weeks ago allegedly showing photos of the horses, many of which appear to be in a very poor condition and suffering from neglect.
Lara Fanning, of Merimbula, has been involved in the online and public protest and said that protesters had a good reception as they handed out flyers on Saturday.
“Many locals are aware of the issue and were keen to play a greater part and wanted to know whether we had a petition,” Ms Fanning said. The group has started an online petition and has also contacted the RSPCA. But there are concerns that while investigations are ongoing, the animals are suffering.
Ms Fanning said: “We first contacted the RSPCA on Tuesday, February 5 and told them that the horses were getting worse. They told me that they had received other complaints too.”
Ms Fanning was told that an investigator would be sent out. The next day she started the Facebook page and it didn’t take long before over 3000 animal-lovers had connected with the page.
Chief inspector at the NSW RSPCA, David O Shannessy, told the News Weekly: “Earlier in February we received a complaint. We attended and instigated an investigation. The person looking after these horses has been issued with directions to do certain things and at this point we are continuing to monitor that compliance.”
Mr O Shannessy said that over 150 animals were involved and that a local vet along with the local RSPCA inspector had assessed all of them and physically examined the worst of them where possible.
“In accordance with the legislation we are seeking advice from the Department of Primary Industries and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA),” he added.
But Ms Fanning is worried about the length of time the process is taking and fears that horses will die while a case is being built. “We’re not in a good position. People are angry and frustrated,” she said.
The News Weekly understands that the compliance directions include some which need to be met in the relative short-term and some that are longer-term measures but that neither would run into months. We also understand that the RSPCA does not have specific timetables as inspectors like to be free to visit at random times.
“When something is being investigated people don’t necessarily see everything that is going on; monitoring is continuing,” Mr O Shannessy said.