England

Horses 'kept in garages and gardens' in North East

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Media captionHorse nuisance is an increasing problem in towns across England with horses being kept in flats, front gardens and tethered illegally on council land

Horses kept in garages, gardens and illegally tethered on council land are causing increasing problems in the North East, the RSPCA has warned.

It said it had seen animals "grazing lawns", with some of those kept in gardens "given tents as a form of shelter".

A fall in prices means horses are being traded for as little as £5.

Councils in the region have spent £250,000 in two years, seizing horses illegally grazing on their land.

The RSPCA's Cathy Hyde said: "Most concerning is people who don't know how to look after horses are buying them for £5 and sticking them in their back garden, with no idea what the animal's needs are.

"We've seen people buy Shetland ponies and think they can graze their lawn. People don't know what a horse's proper diet should be.

"Some people feed them household waste and it can lead to colic, which can kill them.

"We've seen them kept in garages and in horseboxes in the driveway."

Image caption In Newcastle's West End, some horses are tethered in front gardens

Of the north-east councils, Durham was the biggest spender with bailiffs seizing 69 animals, at a cost of about £100,000.

The authorities said they would be liable for damages if members of the public were injured.

Redcar MP Ian Swales has sponsored a private members' bill in parliament, calling for tougher action on fly-grazing.

He said: "We've had cases locally of children being kicked and the main road through Teesside, the A66, was closed at rush hour by four loose horses."

Horses are also a common sight in the West End area of Newcastle.

One owner told the BBC: "This is the way we live. We like to have a mess about with them in the streets, have a bit of fun. I just like riding and racing them."

You can see more on this story on Inside Out on BBC One in the North East & Cumbria on Monday 10 November at 19:30 GMT and nationwide on the iPlayer for 30 days thereafter.

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