Charges pending against a Lara vet who allegedly starved horses on her property are just the tip of the iceberg in Geelong, according to the RSPCA
Inspector Hugh Robinson said drought was taking its toll on horses and livestock, with owners leaving animals to struggle as feed disappeared.
He said the animal welfare organisation was investigating 100 cases of possible animal cruelty in the region.
“Fifty to 60 per cent of those are in or around the fringes of Geelong,” Mr Robinson said.
Most complaints were about starving horses or farm animals on small acreages after the ongoing drought left paddocks bare and led to inflated feed prices, he said.
The drought’s toll on horses and livestock was highlighted two weeks ago when a television network broadcast shocking images of starving horses at a Lara property to a national audience.
Mr Robinson yesterday said he was also investigating two separate reports of emaciated horses at Moolap.
He said the organisation had been run off its feet trying to cope with a massive increase in complaints about animal cruelty across the state.
“We’ve already had more than 2800 complaints this year, so when you consider we usually only get 8000 to 10,000 a year, we’re looking at an increase of more than 100 per cent if things continue as they have been,” he said.
“I want to stress that we are extremely busy and it’s very difficult to traverse the state and get to everything within a day but we’re trying our very best.”
Mr Robinson was responding to criticism that the RSPCA had been too slow to act on complaints about the emaciated condition of horses belonging to Lara vet Julie Tilbrook.
The RSPCA inspector dealing with the case, Jason Nichols, was yesterday finalising arrangements to charge Dr Tilbrook with animal cruelty offences.
RSCPA chief Maria Mercurio said the horses would be seized if Dr Tilbrook failed to comply with the organisation’s strict feed regime.
“The prosecution will seek an order from the Court to prohibit the defendant from having any animals in her care,” Ms Mercurio said.