I’ve been working in the remote mid-west Queensland town of Dingo for over six months. During that time I walk regularly with my workmates and we know the few streets of Dingo well. There’s not much more than a pub (of course), school, library, tennis court, church, run-down caravan park and a couple of saw mills, all set in about eight blocks. There’s nice houses and neglected houses but in general I like the little town. It can’t be helped that the coal train runs through it, or that it is the hub of the mining industry at the moment.
However, it can help one starved and neglected horse but for some reason the people of Dingo have chosen to ignore something in their own backyard. We’ve fed the horse (we call him Billy, after Billy Slater) grass that we’ve pulled out as we’ve walked. We wondered if he was being looked after as his paddock was looking a little bare. We decided to keep an eye on him. Every two weeks (that I worked) I would visit Billy. This last stint I became increasingly concerned. A workmate had contacted the RSPCA weeks before but Billy still looked to be unfed and his water troughs were nearly empty and the water stagnant.
This time as I walked past him he was more skittish than usual. I pulled out heaps of grass and put it in his feed trough. He head-butted it nearly knocking the steel fence down. He stamped his hoof on the ground and whinnied and scoffed down the little grass I could find.
Back at camp I spoke to our chef Cathy who suggested that we save vegetable and fruit scraps for Billy and take water to him. So that afternoon we pulled up in our ute and he whinnied again when he saw the food we were putting in the food bin. He scoffed it and gradually let us pat him. Billy’s ribs show and the bones in his neck poke out. He is ungroomed and his mane and tail are matted. His hoofs look split and his beautiful eyes are full of gunk. There is not a blade of grass in his paddock and now stable for shelter. No water and no food. How could someone treat an animal like this? How can a town just ignore this gorgeous creature?
Next day we pulled up again. This time he stamped the ground and whinnied. He was definitely excited to see us. When I got back to camp I rang the RSPCA and reported the cruelty. There was still no sign of any other food or water. They said they would check Billy out.
The next day the water trough was full of fresh water. We couldn’t see signs of food but Billy would have eaten every crumb. We fed him for two more days. Each time we pulled up he got more excited and would now let us pet him without even shying away.
I heard this week that the people who own Billy are in the house next door. Can you believe that? They have totally ignored his suffering. Billy is a beautiful gentle horse who someone would truly love. These people don’t deserve him and hopefully the RSPCA will relocate him to somewhere nice where he is appreciated.
Here’s to you Billy and the next stage of a happier healthier life.
PLEASE NOTE: RSPCA responds to reports of all cruelty, neglect and abandonment complaints of companion and farm animals, as well as injuries to wildlife. Last year Inspectors investigated nearly 14,000 cruelty complaints, and nearly 8,000 wildlife patients were admitted to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital. To support them please see their website http://www.rspcaqld.org.au