Reigning in animal abuse

Sarah Jones and Rowan Elliot with some of the miniature horses rescued by RRR Rescue Equine.

From discovering skeletons of horses that died still tied to their posts, to horses being beaten, suffering rope burns, fractures and neglect, Rowan Elliott, Sarah Jones and Siobhan Mikaere have seen it all.

“We’re absolutely mortified at the degree of equine neglect around the Bay of Plenty,” says Rowan.

The RRR Rescue, - for rescue, revive and rehome - that Rowan and Siobhan run with many volunteers, has expanded with the launch of ‘RRR Rescue Equine’ just before Christmas.

The equine team is currently caring for 46 horses and miniature ponies, and four donkeys.

“We’ve had foals from 24-hours-old to a 33-year-old gelding come into the rescue for a variety of different reasons,” says Rowan.

“They’re coming in for neglect, malnourishment, abandonment, feet and dental issues, physical abuse and beatings. One gelding had a skull fracture that disfigured his face, also rope burns around necks from being tied.

“We’ve been called out to skeletons of horses that died still tied to posts. The skeletons still had rope around their necks where they laid down with no water, no shade, nothing.

“We’ve been sent photos of horses tongue-tied with wire. One tongue had to be amputated because it was open and hanging,” says Rowan.

In every instance, RRR Rescue Equine reports the abuse to the SPCA.

Rowan says that they are trying to help make people aware that the animal neglect that RRR deals with isn’t just around dogs and cats.

“We’re looking for people who can help support this side of our service with horses and livestock – it’s just so needed.”

Rowan says saving the four donkeys was a major rescue, with their feet so overgrown that their hooves were growing sideways along the ground.

They heard of one horse that had been hit by a car. The owner refused to allow a member of the public to pay for vet help, and put the horse back into its paddock.

The financial costs are high for saving the abused and neglected horses. Each stallion that comes in to RRR Rescue Equine is gelded, costing $500.  Additionally, for mares as well as stallions there’s $105 for a full dental, around $40 to pay petrol costs for the vet, worming the horse is $28, and the farrier fee is between $30 and $40. The RRR charges a fee of about $500-$550 to rehome a miniature horse, and for a large horse the fee varies.

“We’re seeing a massive increase in abuse of miniature ponies because people see them as backyard pets for managing their lawns and they don’t take into consideration the care and management to keep them healthy.”

If the miniature stallions are not gelded they can become aggressive.

“And then the owners don’t want them.”

Rowan says that all of the 46 horses and miniature ponies in care at RRR Rescue Equine arrived in ‘horrendous conditions’. To deal with the growing number of livestock and horses being abused, RRR established RRR Rescue Equine. They are now looking for sponsors and grazing blocks.

“And we are always needing more volunteers.”                                                                                                               

Part of the work ahead will be developing an educational programme through the canine, feline and equine teams to educate the Bay of Plenty public around the care of animals.

“I know that in schools, children have said that their mum or dad has told them that animals don’t feel pain,” says Rowan.

The RRR Rescue Equine team can be contacted through their Facebook page.


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