The RSPCA will be working closely with Hampshire police and other local agencies this year to protect the welfare of animals at the annual Gypsy and Traveller horse fair in Wickham this Wednesday (20 May).

A strong team of specialist RSPCA equine officers will be attending the event along with police officers and a vet from Redwings Horse Sanctuary. The dedicated team will be there to monitor and protect the animals present at the fair but will also be on hand to provide veterinary assistance and advice and guidance where needed.

RSPCA chief inspector and national equine co-ordinator Cathy Hyde said: “Each and every one of our equine officers has a true passion for horses and a wealth of personal experience in all aspects of their care and welfare and their expertise will be invaluable at Wickham. We are also so pleased to be operating joint patrols with the police this year as part of the event and know that this will support us even further in our important work helping animals there.

“Whilst the majority of animals brought to the fair are in very good condition, there are a minority of animals attending that do require our intervention due to concerns about their welfare. We will be there to do everything possible to ensure that those animals receive the proper attention and care that they need and to make sure that the owners of those animals are dealt with appropriately.”

Hyde added: “As this is a horse fair and an extremely busy environment, we are advising people not to bring other pets, particularly dogs, along. Serious incidents can occur when horses get startled by dogs and also, as the weather is getting warmer now, we would hate to see any devastating incidents of dogs suffering after being left in hot cars, which is also a criminal offence, so for the safety and welfare of all animals at the event we urge people to please leave their pets at home.”

People caught causing unnecessary suffering or failing to meet the needs of animals in their care can face a sentence of up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £20,000 under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.