The RSPCA is urging people not to bring dogs to Appleby Horse Fair, Cumbria for the annual Gypsy and Traveller event, which starts on Thursday (6-12 June)*.

Despite advising people of the dangers, the RSPCA pulled two dogs out of hot cars again during the 2012 event. Their owners were given cautions.

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said:

“Dogs shouldn’t be brought to the fair at all, it is quite simply no place for them. Horses can get ‘spooked’ by dogs and dogs can get trampled by horses.

“Fortunately the two dogs pulled out of hot cars last year were okay but that could easily not have been the case. I don’t know what it takes for people to get the message that dogs die in hot cars. It happens fast. If you leave your dog in your car on a hot day it will happen to you.”

Caravans and awnings can also get hot on even cloudy days. The RSPCA is working with Cumbria Constabulary on a zero tolerance approach to this and where dogs are considered to be in danger they will be removed.

The RSPCA is the leading animal welfare organisation at the fair and will have 32 officers and a vet there during peak times including 15 specialist equine officers from all over the country.

Chief inspector Melloy said:

“We will have officers stationed at key locations as normal, but we are going to be paying special attention to the flashing lane this year. Every year horses have to be stitched up after collisions and people are often injured too. We want to see if there is anything we can do to improve safety in future.”

The RSPCA works hand-in-hand with four other animal welfare organisations at the fair. There will be four vets and a specialist field officer/professional driver from Redwings; four field officers and a vet from World Horse Welfare; two welfare officers and one vet from the Donkey Sanctuary and a logistics co-ordinator and two drivers from Blue Cross. Chief Inspector Melloy added:

“It really is a joint effort and we couldn’t do it without the other animal welfare charities.”

There will be a vet station at Salt Tip Corner where anyone with any concerns about an animal can see someone. It will be staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (7/8/9 June) between 10am-4pm.

Representatives from all of the animal welfare charities, which are all members of the National Equine Welfare Council, will also be manning an information and education stand on Salt Tip Corner to talk to Gypsies and Travellers about their horses.

The RSPCA is also reminding people that selling dogs or birds at the fair is illegal and is urging people not to purchase them. For more information about buying a puppy please visit the RSPCA website:http://www.getpuppysmart.com/

*Appleby Fair is unique in Europe and, as well as attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers, over 30,000 other visitors attend the fair, with Sunday being the traditional main visitors’ day. It transforms the town of Appleby for the week, as it normally has a population of around 2,500.

The fair has been in existence for at least 300 years, and probably longer. It is the largest horse fair in Britain and amongst the oldest in Europe.

The fair has a primary connection with Fair Hill, which is in the ownership of Appleby Town Council. Much of the horse dealing takes place at the crossroads by Fair Hill, and on the Sands by the River Eden, where nearby roads are closed for periods to allow horses to be shown and traded.

Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG)

In October 2007, the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) was set up to bring together and co-ordinate the work of the key public agencies that have a regulatory role at the Fair.

The MASCG consists of representatives from the Gypsy and Traveller community, Eden District Council, Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria NHS, North West Ambulance Service, RSPCA, Environment Agency, South Lakeland District Council, Highways Agency and HMRC. The objective is to make the fair a safer and more enjoyable event for residents, Gypsies and Travellers and visitors.

For the latest information about Appleby Horse Fair 2013 visit http://www.applebyfair.org/ and follow http://twitter.com/ApplebyFair on Twitter.