Veterinarians are being called in to help improve the care given to the army’s horses‚ while some are being moved to a new plot of land‚ following the startling announcement that some had to put down due to starvation.
The South African National Defence Force has confirmed the euthanisation of 25 of its horses at the South African Army Specialised Infantry Capability unit in Potchefstroom‚ “due to compromised health“.
The military said it had instituted remedial actions to alleviate the plight of the horses under its care.
“The services of our Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) has been roped in to help continuously assess the conditions under which these animals are kept and ensure that all conditions identified as harmful are addressed with the urgency they deserve‚ to enhance the health status of our animals.
“In our quest to finally settle our horses in a large enough environment‚ the Chief of the SANDF‚ General Solly Shoke has directed that 80 of our horses be relocated to a better facility in Rooiwal‚ north of Pretoria‚ to ensure that all animals under the care of the SANDF are properly looked after.
“Only 40 horses will be left at SAASIC in Potchefstroom with the understanding that the facility will be adequate to cater for all these animals’ needs.”
The SANDF said it also enlisted extra personnel and veterinary physicians “to help manage the animals and ensure that the highest standard of animal breeding behaviour is maintained” at its facilities.
The South African Army Specialised Infantry Capability (SAASIC) was established in March 2011 with a number of horses to provide an equestrian capability for the SANDF‚ a function that includes border line safety deployment and training purposes.
Earlier this week‚ the National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) said it intended taking criminal action against the army.
NSPCA inspectors said they were horrified to discover that horses in the care of the unit were starving to death.
Twenty-five horses on the army base were in such an emaciated condition or compromised state of health that to prevent their further suffering‚ they had to be destroyed‚ the animal welfare organisation said.
This followed multiple attempts by the SPCA to intervene.
Marcelle Meredith‚ NSPCA executive director‚ explained that in 2013‚ the SANDF and NSPCA had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which was formally signed in May 2016. She accused the SANDF of continually reneging on the agreement‚ “with regards to their responsibilities to adequately care for the animals in their control“‚ particularly at the unit meant to be caring for the horses.
“Their failure to secure suitably qualified personnel or adequate facilities‚ combined with a non-empathetic infrastructure that has repeatedly failed the animals in their care‚ has resulted in a complete breakdown in the welfare conditions afforded to the horses‚” she said.
“The main herd had no food‚ the horses had no other option but to eat soil and their own faeces.”
She said food was only provided to the horses after the NSPCA forced the SAASIC unit into taking emergency action to secure adequate feed for the animals.
Further investigations revealed that prior to this inspection the Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) had already had to step in and euthanase starving horses and treat others as a result of ongoing neglect‚ said Meredith.
The NSPCA said it intended to continually check on the remaining horses to ensure that they are being adequately cared for.