Today’s story comes from a friend in Australia in May of 2009. It is sad to realize that other countries suffer from the same legal red tape that Animal Control’s so seem to be plagued with in this country when it comes to horses suffering.
“I do not claim to be an expert about horses, I do not claim to have every single fact of every single side of this story…I just felt the need to tell Alla’s story to the world.
“I first met Alla in Warrnambool the first date to be exact was the 8th of January 2003. I was 13 years old. I have been mad about horses since grade 2 and I had been staying at my Auntie’s I decided to use some of my money for a trail ride with my sister. Originally Alla was called Ella there but I assume as time went on the pronunciation of her name changed. The trail ride went well and I really thought nothing more of it.
“Years later I saw Alla again at an old friend’s place and her new owners were agisting [boarding] her on their paddock. She was a little flighty and didn’t come over for a pat. Apparently the riding school had closed down and the horses had been sold off. I only figured out it was the same horse by a photo and uncanny identical markings. Then they moved to a paddock out the back of my place. The paddock isn’t ours and it’s often the closest I can get to horses. I recognised a grey mare from that old friends place and soon with rummaging through old photo’s found that once again the bay mare in the paddock was Alla…only she wasn’t so well.
“Life had been hard on her and I’m still not quite sure who really owned her but the other owner of the grey mare discovered her rug [blanket] was cutting into her chest on the 18th of June 2006. The kind young girl treated the wound and eventually took off her heavy rug to find she was barely more than skin and bones. She was horribly emaciated and because of the commotion the previous day about her cut chest I came out and chatted with the owner of the grey pony. Looking at her with her head bigger than her shrunken body was horrible and my first concern was what happened if she went down and couldn’t get up?
“On the 20th June 2006 my worst fears were realised when she went down. When the owner of the grey mare turned up I entered the paddock. She didn’t even try getting up as we approached. We called the RSPCA out to be advised on what could be done. They needed to get her up. She was drenched with sugar and water. Alla tried to get up twice. She collapsed back to the ground which was heart breaking to watch. By now the whole neighbourhood had heard the news and even my mother was calling the ranger to see what could be done. Since we didn’t have any officials here then the RSPCA couldn’t legally confiscate the horse and instead they contacted the owners and asked them about what was going to happen. I remember at around 4 or 5:30 on that same day the owners decided the knackery was where she would go. She had been down since early that morning.
“At first I admit I unrealistically thought if she was given enough attention she’d be able to pull through and I was shattered by the lack of caring her owners showed…to just dispose of her. When it finally dawned that she wasn’t getting up, that she had severe infections and her organs were most likely shutting down I resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much I didn’t like it that she was going to be killed no matter what. The knackery seemed so final and torturous…I don’t like horses going there but I don’t like them starving to death either…
“The neighbourhood offered to buy a needle for her, to end her life with some dignity…to even get people in to dig a hole and bury her….the owner refused. The knackery was late…very late. All the while we tried making Alla’s final moments as peaceful as possible bringing things to her that she couldn’t reach herself. We patted her and we knew by now her legs would be numb and her attempts to rise had ceased. She still sat up and she watched us with patient eyes, trusting us.
“Numerous calls throughout the day were futile…the rangers hands were tied, the RSPCA couldn’t go beyond what the owner had said and by the time some high authority figure turned up Alla would be dead. Three of us stayed with her as the sun went down and the knackery still hadn’t arrived. I was finally driven in by the cold with the woman closest to the paddock promising to check her hourly in hope that she’d pass away during the night. Alla was a fighter…she didn’t know the fight would end in death either way.
“I got up early the next morning to find people out with her again. She’d thrashed during the night and dug out a circle around herself. She could no longer sit up in resting position. She no longer wanted to eat. She looked horrible –trust me you don’t want details. My parents and the whole neighbourhood were horrified that she was still alive by nearing to 12 the next day and she’d been down for over 24 hours….the RSPCA were called again, the ranger was called and eventually because of all the commotion even the cops arrived. Neighbours were outraged by her condition and all the red tape we were being faced with. We hadn’t been able to save her, we couldn’t end her life in a respectful manner and she was suffering badly.
“Finally one of the policemen got the okay to shoot her. I didn’t stay to watch….but I stayed to listen when I couldn’t see her. At exactly 12:45pm on the 21st of June 2006 Alla died. That shot…and I felt relief. She was no longer suffering. She wouldn’t have to wait any longer numb and suffering for the knackery man to finally turn up. I was sad that there was nothing I could have done to prevent her death in the first place. She was an innocent caught up in neglect and confusion. It’s been several years since her death now…I keep photos as a reminder, that some people shouldn’t own horses if they can’t provide what they need to survive. When I first met Alla, as I have met many horses but never owned them, I never thought I’d cross paths with her again…but I followed her life and I was there on the day she died. I remember her because I don’t want to forget her and discard her like her owner did and I write this story as a tribute to her life so she didn’t die in vain.”
This person wrote this story in hopes that Alla’s death would not be in vain. If you see a horse that is suffering, contact the proper authorities, media, rescues, whatever it takes to help the horse before it is too late. Hundreds of horses die from neglect every year, let us all be vigilant to put an end to needless suffering!