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RSPCA under fire for leaving body of shot foal within sight of playground

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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The RSPCA has been criticised by MPs for shooting dead a sick foal which was "left to rot" – next to a children's play area.

The bay gelding was put down at the field by animal welfare officials who deemed it too ill to survive.

Residents were stunned to find the dead animal with a note next to it from the RSPCA demanding the owner move the remains.

A second foal, left alive with the dead body, was said to be in a state of "distress" following the incident on January 8.

The foal was shot on a patch of rough grazing land at Severn Beach, near Bristol, not far from a play park.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, questioned why the RSPCA abandoned the dead foal and its companion. He said: "It all sounds deeply unsettling. It certainly doesn't sound like good practice."

Local resident Katie Merrett added: "It was very distressing for local children, leaving the body where they could see it from their play area."

Resident Becky Ashdown added: "It was so sad to see that dead foal in the field, just lying out in the open with blood all around its head. The other one was left in the field with the carcass, and I think that it was quite distressed."

Local Margaret Hiles said the body had been left there for over a week.

She said: "The young horse was pot belied, which was as a result of worms, I was told. He also had a low body weight index.

"When I visited the field the day before he was dispatched, I found him collapsed on the ground shivering, very cold, and he couldn't get up without the assistance of three people. The assessment at the time was that he was not deemed poorly enough to be removed."

It is thought the animals were dumped on the land in an example of "fly grazing".

The RSPCA has defended its actions, saying the horse, which was unable to stand, had been put down on veterinary advice as a matter of animal welfare. A spokesman said both it and the surviving foal had now been removed, and the cost had been met by the owner, whom the charity had managed to trace.

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