Authorities are playing a waiting game over 18 horses trapped on higher ground amid fast-flowing floodwaters in Christchurch, England, after firefighters successfully delivered the animals hay.
The joint decision was made by officials from Dorset Fire & Rescue, the RSPCA, the Environment Agency, and the owner of the horses.
Station manager Dave Graham acknowledged concerns over the welfare of the horses, isolated by flood waters on Stony Lane, Christchurch.
Graham said the horses were in good health and were well fed, having been supplied with nine bales of fresh hay on Tuesday, which was provided by the owner and delivered by firefighters.
Graham said the horses were still eating the hay today.
“They have approximately an acre of land to roam and there is room for a significant rise before the horses will need to be relocated.
“Following a meeting of the relevant agencies, it has been decided to leave these ‘hand-shy’ horses in situ, as they are safe and comfortable and the water surrounding them is deep and fast following. Any attempt to rescue the horses would place both the horses and rescuers at significant unnecessary risk.”
Graham said the situation was under constant review and the water levels in Stony Lane were being monitored, but were currently receding.
“Further food will be taken out to the horses as required and in consultation with the owner,” he said.
Emergency services and RSPCA inspectors have busy during the serious flooding.
The RSPCA said officers had been putting themselves in harm’s way throughout the bad weather in order to rescue animals in danger.
“Many of these rescues have been complicated and dangerous and the demands on our inspectors have been enormous,” it said in a statement.
The RSPCA was involved in the rescue of seven cob-type horses last Saturday from flooded fields in Christchurch.
“This was a very dangerous situation and one of the hardest type of rescues the RSPCA undertake. These horses were wild and unco-operative and there was a fast flowing river next to the flooded field.
“The rescue had been planned over a number of days and took several hours to complete using various techniques at the team’s disposal. Two police officers were present to ensure public safety and close off the road during certain parts of the operation.
“We can understand the public’s desire to help animals in distress during the floods, however, the RSPCA and police are urging people not to attempt this as there is a significant risk to human life in doing so.”