Mystery horses abandoned on Stevenage land

Abandoned horses on London Road, Stevenage

Abandoned horses on London Road, Stevenage - Credit: Archant

Four horses and a pony have been abandoned on private land in an apparent incident of “fly-grazing”.

The miniature Shetland pony

The miniature Shetland pony - Credit: Archant

The animals first appeared on private land adjacent to the Roaring Meg Retail Park in Stevenage more than 10 days ago.

By law, landowners have a duty of care towards animals left on their property. The horses and pony cannot be legally transported until they have been reported as abandoned for a minimum of two weeks.

The landowners, religious charity Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, were advised by police to put up a notice stating the animals would be rehomed, sold or humanely destroyed once the 14-day period is up on Sunday.

Site manager Mohammed Wahead said: “I think it is important to clarify that we do not plan on killing these animals. We just have to follow the correct legal procedure before we can rehouse them.

“Many people have been in touch asking to take the horses, but we are just following the law. We would not choose a course of action that would harm, injure or cause distress to the horses.”

The RSPCA has reported a 69% increase in equine rescues relating to fly-grazing across England, up from 901 cases in 2012 to 1,526 last year.

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A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “Our officers are carrying out regular checks on the horses. Frustratingly, current laws do not adequately allow swift action in cases of fly-grazing. Up to eight different pieces of legislation can apply depending on the situation, requiring legal advice and a lengthy process to resolve the situation.”

Anyone with information about the owners of the animals is advised to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999.