A South Yorkshire charity struggling to make ends meet says tough economic times have led to scores of unwanted horses.
Mary Hepworth opened Albert’s Horse Sanctuary in 2005 – along with husband John and daughters Mary-Anne and Stacey – to care for animals who are no longer wanted and face being put down.
It is currently full to capacity and struggling for funding. Mary says the number of horses being abandoned is putting huge pressure on the sanctuary in Cawthorne, Barnsley.
She said: “So many horses have been abandoned since the recession hit and it seems to be escalating.
“People are dumping them left, right and centre as they are too expensive to keep.
“We keep taking them in, but can’t rehome them as people no longer have them as companions.”
Mary says she and her family have just taken in two new foals – taking the total number of horses currently in their care to 19.
They are also caring for four donkeys, plus numerous other animals in need, including pigs and sheep.
Mary said: “The foals had been left in a muddy field without shelter.
“No matter how many times we say we aren’t going to take anymore in, we get another call and it’s difficult to say no.
“We don’t want to see healthy animals being put to sleep.
“However, it’s getting difficult for us to physically and financially care for the number of animals at the sanctuary.”
The Hepworth family were recently upset to lose Emmy, one of the first horses they took in 10 years ago.
Mary says they will continue to help horses for as long as they can, although the future looks uncertain.
She said: “We have vet bills to pay and the cold weather makes it tough as the horses take more looking after.
“The harsh reality is that we are entirely self-funded and without the support of the public, there’s no way we could continue to do what we do.
“We have done this for 10 years.
“However, whether we can continue for much longer we just don’t know – we take things day by day.”
n To make a donation to the sanctuary, contact Mary on 07721 327879 or write to Albert’s Horse Sanctuary, South Lane, Cawthorne. Barnsley S75 4EF.