Published: 15:51, 21 May 2019
| Updated: 11:27, 22 May 2019
The picture speaks a thousand words - the pitiful sight of a dead pony floating in a river shows the stark reality of Kent's equine crisis.
RSPCA officials openly admit that "dead horses are often discarded like rubbish".
This one is no different. The nameless, ownerless pony is being left to rot as authorites say they can do nothing to remove it so it will be left to disintegrate in the River Rother, just outside Wittersham, near Tenterden.
WARNING: Graphic images
Horse welfare campaigner Fredericka Vann said: "Yet another pony has been dumped dead or dying and left to rot.
"There is no dignity here or the slightest bit of humanity or care towards this poor pony.
"Birds have pecked out its eyes and one ear is missing and its body is very bloated."
Fredericka is leading a campaign to prevent horses from being abandoned on Kingsnorth field, Ashford, where the tally of dead horses found led her to dub the land at Ashford Road the "field of death".
Authorities say that it is not their responsibility to remove the pony's carcass.
The Environment Agency says reluctantly it cannot intervene.
A spokesman said: “This is a very sad case. You hope, as a nation of animal lovers, the pony’s owner will come forward, in the same way someone would if their domestic pet was killed on the road.
“The animal does not pose a risk of flooding or pollution. As such, removing it from the water is primarily the responsibility of the person who owns it or the land next to the river, if different.”
Calls have been made to the RSPCA, but the charity says it is unable to help.
A spokesman said: “The RSPCA has been made aware of this poor, dead horse which was found in the river near Wittersham. It must have been very distressing for the people to make such an upsetting discovery.
“Unfortunately, we do receive a lot of calls where dead horses have been found dumped. Disposing of a horse’s body has cost implications which means sadly dead horses are often discarded like rubbish.
“The UK is facing an equine crisis and during the last few years we have been called about the bodies of horses and ponies dumped like this in locations up and down the country, and more often than not they are not microchipped so we have no way of tracing an owner."
Ashford Borough Council says it has referred the issue to Kent County Council trading standards as its animal health team would deal with it.
The RSPCA spokesman added: “While we do not know the circumstances surrounding the death of this poor pony we would be keen to hear from anyone who may have any further information and would urge them to contact us on 0300 1234 999."
In the meantime the pony's carcass, which was discovered at the weekend, is being left to float aimlessly along the River Rother.
Ms Vann said: "No animal deserves such a cruel fate and to be left without any dignity even in death."