The RSPCA is urging people not to bring dogs to Appleby Horse Fair, Cumbria during the annual Gypsy and Traveller event, which starts on Thursday (5-11 June)*.


Despite repeatedly advising people of the dangers, police and the RSPCA rescued a German Shepherd dog from a hot car last year. The owner was convicted of two offences, banned from keeping dogs and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs. The previous year two dogs were removed from hot cars. Their owners received cautions.


“I can’t decide whether the message isn’t being received, or if people just think it won’t happen to them,” said RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy. “Dogs die in hot cars. It can and will happen to you if you leave your dog in a car on a warm day.”


Caravans and awnings can also get hot, even on 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.


“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.”


The RSPCA is the leading animal welfare organisation at the fair and will have 27 officers there during peak times including specialist equine officers from all over the country.


The RSPCA works hand-in-hand with four other animal welfare organisations at the fair. There will be three vets, two specialist field officers and two professional drivers from Redwings, who are also providing mobile stabling. World Horse Welfare is sending four field officers. Blue Cross is sending five members of its horse team. The Donkey Sanctuary is sending a vet, their Head of Welfare and a Donkey Welfare Advisor.


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


There will be a vet station at Salt Tip Corner where assistance can be sought for any animal that needs it and anyone with any concerns is urged to alert us to them. The vet station will be staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (6/7/8 June) between 10am-4pm.


Last year help arrived just in time for a horse that was found exhausted, dehydrated and hypothermic after being overworked on the flashing lane and left in harness in full sun with no access to water. Her owner admitted causing unnecessary suffering and was deprived of her and ordered to pay just over £2,000 in costs.


Representatives from all four of the animal welfare charities – all members of the National Equine Welfare Council – will also be manning an information and education tent on Salt Tip Corner where Gypsies and Travellers can share knowledge and discuss issues relating to horse care. This year they are joined by representatives from The British Horse Society (BHS) for the first time. Now in its fourth year, the tent continues to grow in popularity thanks to interactive activities including specimens of real horse parasites and body condition scoring.

The RSPCA is also reminding people that selling dogs or birds at the fair is illegal and is urging people not to purchase them.


RSPCA chief inspector Melloy said: “Appleby isn’t the place to buy a puppy, it is a horse fair.


“There are so many unwanted dogs in this country that people should always go to a rescue first, it really is the responsible thing to do, but if you really must buy a puppy you need to be very careful.


“Buyers should make sure the breeder is licensed by the local authority, see where the puppy has been bred, meet the puppy’s parents and see any records of vaccinations. Failure to do these things can cause a lot of heartache and enormous financial costs for them when it goes wrong.


“Puppy breeding is big business and the welfare of the animals involved often comes second to profit.”


For more information about buying a puppy please visit the RSPCA website: