National animal welfare body says it’s in the dark about army horses

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The National Council of SPCAs is “perturbed by the lack of interest” shown by government and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) following the euthanasing of 25 horses on 12 April.

“It has been five weeks since the euthanasia of the horses that were in the care of the SA Army Specialised Infantry Capability (SAASIC) based at Potchefstroom,” said NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith.
“The NSPCA has received no official communication from government. The Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, to whom we addressed a letter, has neither acknowledged receipt nor responded in any way to the serious animal welfare concerns raised,” she said, adding the national animal welfare organisation was not invited to be part of the SANDF board of inquiry (BOI) into events at the North West base.

Last week the SANDF said a Board of Inquiry had been appointed and given 30 days to complete its work and report back to SA Army chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam. BOIs are standard operating procedure when accidents involving military personnel and equipment happen. Also standard operating procedure is not to make public the names of those serving on them and the SAASIC inquiry is the same.

SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said: “Details of members conducting the BOI cannot be made public as this may compromise the investigation” adding the SAASIC BOI members were seniors.

Meredith said it was the NSPCA’s understanding SANDF animals were classified as equipment.
“In this instance, it appears the need to ensure provision of feed and veterinary assistance to animals is not a priority.”



She was also concerned about the movement of some of the horses from SAASIC to a Signals Formation base camp, Boekenhoutskloof, north of Pretoria.
“The area where the camp is is noted for ticks and tick-borne diseases in horses, particularly in summer months. This, in conjunction with the lack of equine facilities at the camp, raises questions regarding the ability of the SANDF to implement effective parasite control measures for these horses.” She added that there appears to be no veterinary facilities or veterinarians based at Boekenhoutskloof or surrounds.
“We question the lack of consultation by the SANDF with the NSPCA since the findings of our recent inspections, as well as the decision to move 60 horses to an unsuitable area, where challenges exist in providing care and attention.
“The NSPCA has attempted to work with the SANDF for the past two years with little or no success.
“We will continue to conduct inspections and monitor the welfare of these horses. Given the circumstances, the necessity may well arise in the future for the NSPCA to remove the horses on welfare grounds. This work will be undertaken with donor funding which is hard to come by and it is our belief responsible ownership, consultation and progressive action by the SANDF could avoid this happening,” Meredith said.