Fury as pics of starving horses go viral
WARNING: Graphic pictures
An animal rights organisation has lashed the government, accusing it of "failing to protect" starving horses that have been stuck on a Queensland property.
Animal Liberation Queensland (ALQ) lashed Biosecurity Queensland again this week for keeping the eight surviving horses on the Toowoomba property surrounded by the "bodies of their friends … slowly decomposing".
Local Jo Marsh made the discovery on January 10 at a property on the outskirts of Toowoomba in the Gowrie Mountain area, taking pictures of the 35 dead horses and the emaciated eight.
After notifying the RSPCA of the horrific scenes, the matter was handed to Queensland's Department of Agriculture.
Locals then started feeding the starving horses themselves with Marjorie Pagani, from Australian Farm Animal Rescue Matters, funding most of the recovery.
But in a post on January 22, Ms Marsh claimed they were told to stop feeding the horses.
"We have been told by Biosecurity to cease feeding the remaining horses as we are interrupting their investigation," she wrote on Facebook.
"They issued a post today saying the horses are being fed appropriately. Really? Since when are sheep pellets and sorghum stubble appropriate?"
An investigation done by ALQ and the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses also found five racehorses were among the corpses found at the Toowoomba property.
Onya Sonya - still listed as "active" by Racing Australia; Miss Voli and Sarah's Joy - listed as "retired"; and Oorawan and Aah - were all found dead.
One of the surviving horses, Flagflamenco, was also still listed as active by Racing Australia.
"Despite public outrage and nearly 2500 emails to the Minister of Agriculture, there still appears to be very little action from Biosecurity Queensland to protect the remaining eight horses at a property near Toowoomba, where over 30 horses have already starved to death," the two organisations said.
ALQ's Executive Director Chay Neal lashed the government organisation said the action of concerned neighbours had saved the eight horses.
"Kind neighbours have been giving the horses small amounts of extra food over the last week or so, as they have been monitoring the feeding routine by the owner, who has only been attending once per day. The food being supplied by the owner has been low quality, wet straw. The action by these neighbours has meant that no further horses have died," Mr Neal said.
"Neighbours had been providing high quality horse feed until they were instructed by Biosecurity Queensland on Monday to stop feeding them. We are extremely concerned about the fate of the remaining horses and have questions regarding the feeding regime and monitoring by the Department.
"Waiting for more horses to die before taking action and prosecuting the owner is gross negligence by the Department.
"We reiterate our previous calls for Mark Furner, Minister of Agriculture, to instruct Biosecurity Queensland to prosecute the owner, seize ownership of these horses, and prevent any further suffering."
Biosecurity Queensland disputes ALQ's version of events, claiming it had put the surviving eight horses on a feeding plan.
"Claims that BQ officers attempted to prevent feeding in order to bolster chances of prosecution are false," the organisation said in a statement.
"The horses are being fed under a vet-designed regime aimed at returning them to full health. Further veterinary assessment is scheduled for this week.
"Due to the condition of the horses, it has not yet been possible to relocate them as this could further impact their welfare.
"Our primary focus is the immediate welfare of the remaining eight horses on the property."