A horse so thin he was labelled a “walking skeleton” has won the right to remain in care at a Rojales rescue centre, after a three-week battle over his ownership.
Oscar was officially seized on December 11 from a property near the San Luis salt lakes, in a joint operation between the Torrevieja Council and the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre.
But his former owners later mounted a case to reclaim Oscar, despite their history of neglect.
In a bid to keep Oscar at the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre, the Torrevieja Council engaged an animal rights lawyer and negotiated with the previous owners.
The council last week (Wednesday, March 23) received a verbal agreement from the former owners, granting permission for Oscar to remain in the rescue centre’s protection, however, they refused to sign any legal documents formalising the deal.
“While this sounds like we’ve won, legally nothing has changed. There is every possibility that the owners could try to claim Oscar back again later,” rescue centre co-founder Sue Weeding said
The vet who initially examined Oscar upon seizure reported that “malnutrition along with multiple orthopaedic problems prevent the use of this animal as a working horse for animal welfare reasons”.
Sue said Oscar had shoes on at the time of his rescue, indicating he was still being worked despite his condition. He also suffers from a suspected liver or kidney problem.
“We were determined that this horse not be returned to these people. Oscar was so thin when he arrived that he looked like a walking skeleton. Three months on, he is still very thin and requires specialist medical treatment and painkillers. He’s about 17, and has problems with the joints of all four legs from being overworked,” Sue said.
“Over the years many people have contacted us about the horses, donkeys and even dogs kept at this property, near the San Luis salt lakes. They are often kept in really bad condition. Last March, one starved and extremely dehydrated horse actually died before we could save it. If Oscar was returned to these people, we feared he would not survive.”
Sue also expressed concern at the police’s decision to grant Oscar’s former owners written permission to visit the Rojales rescue centre earlier this year.
We’ve been put in a situation where we’ve responded to a call for help, as we always do, and then they’ve invited these people into our home. Because the rescue centre is our home. We live here,” Sue said.
“Since the attempt to claim Oscar, we’ve felt like we’re under siege. People have turned up at our rescue centre, shouting. Vans drive past slowly late at night. We fear our horses are more unsafe than ever before.”
The non-profit rescue centre has now launched a major fundraising campaign to raise €13,000 for a secure new boundary wall and fence, replacing an existing fence that is 30 years old, insecure and falling down in places.
Sue said the fence was urgently needed to protect the centre’s 97 horses, ponies and donkeys. “Even a small €5 donation will help,” she said.
Donations can be made online at www.easyhorsecare.net/donate/support-our-fence-fundraiser.