The RSPCA is appealing for information after an "extremely distressing" increase in dumped horses across Kent.
Over the last two months, the charity has seen an increase in equine-related issues across the county, including 21 disturbing incidents.
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RSPCA inspector Caroline Doe, who attended the incidents, said 25 horses were found either dead, dying or in poor condition. Fourteen of the horses were dead on arrival, nine had to be put to sleep due to their terrible condition and only two survived and are recovering.
Inspector Doe, who is based in Kent, says: "We are seeing a spate of dumped horses in the county at the moment, which is extremely shocking and distressing and needs to stop.
"These horses appear to have been transported in vans or pick-up trucks to quiet locations where they are callously dumped, some even while they are still just alive which is quite simply barbaric.
"This is pushing our inspectors to their limits and putting a strain on resources. We are asking the public to remember that we have finite resources and must always act within the law."
Inspector Doe adds: "These horses have been dumped in driveways, fields, on private and public land - with complete disregard for both the animals and the public.
"We are urging the public in Kent to be vigilant. As always, anyone with any welfare concerns about horses or any other animals, or information about any of the recent incidents, can contact the RSPCA cruelty and advice line by calling 0300 1234 999."
The RSPCA believes the main two reasons for the horse crisis are the recession and overbreeding. Prices for horses have dropped significantly, while horse owners are having difficulty rehoming their unwanted horses and, increasingly, cannot even give them away.
Horses can be very expensive to keep and the charity believes some people decide to callously abandon their poorly horses instead of pay for veterinary treatment. Owners who are struggling to care for their horses are urged to contact the RSPCA or other horse welfare charities for advice and assistance rather than dump their animals in a dying state.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal could face a maximum six-month prison sentence and/or a £20,000 fine.