RSPCA Cymru is urging anyone thinking of purchasing a horse or a pony as a Christmas present to consider the long-term commitment required to properly care for a pet.

As Christmas draws near the RSPCA is advising people who are thinking about buying a pet as a present, to take into account whether the recipient has the time and money to care for the animal 365 days of the year for the next 10-20 years. Factors to consider include daily grooming, feeding and exercise and ongoing costs such as vets bills and registration fees.

RSPCA inspector Neill Manley said: “Unfortunately we have heard of cases in recent years involving horses or ponies being bought as presents.

“These ponies may be bought for as little as £10 and sometimes the people that get them simply do not have the finances or facilities to keep them properly.

“We have seen cases in Swansea where ponies end up tethered inappropriately and potentially are at risk from many different hazards.

“As well as the welfare issues the horses are most often fly grazing as they are not there with the permission of the landowner.”

At the moment RSPCA inspectors and officers are working hard in the Swansea area to reduce the tethering of horses.

“We are constantly dealing with horse welfare issues and we are doing all we can to reduce the tethering of horses in Swansea and we regularly work alongside Swansea City Council,” added inspector Manley.

“When investigating calls of concern about tethered horses the RSPCA uses the Welsh Government, Code of Practice for the welfare of equines.

“Even when tethered in the short term, many tethered horses do not meet the minimum standard laid out in the codes of practice and owners run the risk of falling foul of the law.

“A project is now running where tethered horses are being proactively looked at with the aim of reducing this inadequate and antiquated practice, that to many people is simply out of place with modern times.”

Tethering is not specifically illegal in itself, however it is not recommended as a viable way to keep a horse. Under the Animal Welfare Act owners have a legal duty of care to meet the five welfare needs of their horses at all times. Those who tether a horse could be in breach of the Act if it means that the animal’s basic needs are not being met. If a horse needs to be tethered in order to have access to grazing, it must only be for short periods of time. For the remainder of the day the horse should have access to shelter, and a space to run free and interact freely with other horses.

If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.

Notes to Editors:

The issue of horses being left to tether on certain land without permission can be tackled via the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014. This Act equips Local Authorities with new powers to swiftly tackle fly-grazing and abandonment problems. RSPCA Cymru has worked collaboratively at both a policy and operational level with Local Authorities in the hope this Act can be used to best effect to deter an element of irresponsible ownership.
People considering giving a pet for a present should take into account whether the recipient has the time and money to care for the animal 365 days of the year for the next 10-20 years. If you are confident that a pet is the right addition to the family, the RSPCA recommends visiting a rescue centre with the potential new owner so they can pick out the pet which will be best suited to their particular lifestyle.
Every year, animals are abandoned when the novelty of having a pet wears off. The Society is calling on pet owners to do the right thing and contact the appropriate organisations for help should the burden to look after your pet become too much. Pets are a lifelong commitment. Consider carefully before purchasing a pet as a present to ensure that this pet will be loved for life.
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