THIRSTY: Two foals were given water by concerned onlookers.
THIRSTY: Two foals were given water by concerned onlookers. Contributed

Saleyard under investigation after outcry over horse welfare

THE RSPCA and Biosecurity Queensland are investigating claims that horses weren't given adequate protection from the heat at the Laidley saleyards during the new-year long weekend.

People at the sale contacted the RSPCA with concerns that wounded horses and foals were left without adequate shade or water as temperatures hit 32 degrees in the afternoon.

They say their claims are supported by footage and photographs depicting sweating and distressed animals, and that the dehydrated horses and foals gulped water bystanders poured from drink bottles.

Auctioneer Bernard Coonan said though he didn't want to comment extensively on the claims with the investigation ongoing, he believed the auction was "above board in relation to the way the horses were looked after".

"We had staff on hand giving the horses water and we couldn't do anything more than that," he said.

A number of well-established trees were planted around the yards to provide shade, an act noted by RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty, but most trees had since died.

"We have had issues with Laidley before and we thought that had all been sorted," Mr Beatty said.

"They planted some trees but they're not giving off enough shade and more needs to be done.

"A lot of people were concerned, that's why our inspector drove down there."

The Lockyer Valley Regional Council also responded to the claims and said it was "disheartening" to hear of the allegations.

"It is important to note that responsibility for animal welfare lies with users of the facility," a spokesperson said.

"However, since being made aware of the allegations, the council is looking at available options including putting a temporary suspension on use of the facility for this purpose.

"Council is also looking at possibly closing the facility during the months of December and January, when historically we receive the hottest temperatures, and restricting access to stalls that don't have access to water."

The RSPCA confirmed it was investigating and its findings were to be delivered to Biosecurity Queensland.

A Biosecurity Queensland spokesman said they would continue to work with the saleyards management regarding the allegations but did not elaborate on whether further action would be taken.

Management of the Laidley horse sale declined a request for comment.

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