GRAPHIC IMAGE: Calls for calm after shock ‘dead foal’ pictures emerge online

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RSPCA bosses are calling for calm amid concerns of animal cruelty at a yard in Bakewell after distressing pictures emerged online.

Inspectors from the animal welfare charity visited a field near to Lady Manners School along with animal health officers from Derbyshire County Council last Thursday after being made aware of distressing photos circulating on social media.

But the RSPCA has said the pictures shared are historic - although later confirmed an image of a dead foal was ‘more recent’ and that it had died as a result of a ‘tragic accident’.

Calls have now been made for the RSPCA to investigate further and an online campaign has been launched.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “We can appreciate people are frustrated however we do not have any special powers which allow us to remove animals without the permission of the owner.

“Horses can only be seized by the police on the expert opinion of a vet and then placed in our care.

“We’d like to thank people who have called with information and would ask that only people with fresh first-hand concerns contact us.”

They added: “During our visit we also looked into a more recent photograph of a dead foal. It appeared this foal died as the result of a tragic accident, there is no evidence of cruelty or neglect.” When pressed by the Mercury to give further information about how the foal died, the RSPCA said it had no details.

Dozens of readers contacted the Mercury after witnesses reportedly told the RSPCA about the foal last Wednesday but inspectors did not attend until the next day.

A spokesman for Matlock Horsewatch said: “The RSPCA should have told the lady who reported it and told them it was still alive, to either find a vet or phone another charity so that foal could have been saved.

“If the public are giving the RSPCA money they should get out there and find out if animals are at risk.People are demanding answers.”

Derbyshire County Council said it ‘currently has no concerns about welfare’ of the horses. A spokesman added: “We will continue to make visits in the future to ensure this remains the case.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire police said: “We would like to reiterate the messages that anyone with concerns about animal welfare can contact the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.”

Two horses have now been signed over to to Nottingham charity Help For Horses.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said they could not comment on why the horses were taken by the charity as they do not know the circumstances legal guidelines must be followed when seizing horses, however anyone is free to sign over the ownership of their animals. A spokesman added: “While conditions may not always be ideal, RSPCA officers have no extra powers than any other member of the public and they must abide by the law. We cannot simply remove animals. To remove a horse, the police must seize the animal - on the advice of an independent vet - and place that animal into the charity’s care. This can only happen when a vet believes that animal is suffering.”

Additionally, the RSPCA cannot force someone to sign over ownership their animals.