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Colleferro (Rome) emergency: right now one of the largest legal confiscations of equines yet to be carried out in Italy


Colleferro (Rome) emergency: right now one of the largest legal confiscations of equines yet to be carried out in Italy is underway, in collaboration with the Health Ministry task force and the Health and Safety Regulations branch of the Carabinieri (NAS). Help in various areas is needed to feed the starving animals and give urgent medical attention prior to their transfer elsewhere.

(30 January 2013)

Following the report to the authorities by the Italian Horse Protection Association, and thanks to the support from the TV programme Striscia La Notizia, a hideous case of equine cruelty has been exposed (see here the IHP article and the Striscia TV coverage). The confiscation operation is still underway. The number of animals involved is horrifying and speaks for itself.

The confiscation procedure is coordinated by the government animal welfare task force, in an international operation with volunteers from IHP, the Italian donkey sanctuary ‘Rifugio degli Asinelli’, and the British Donkey Sanctuary. To date, 104 horses, donkeys and mules have been evacuated since 24 January, having been removed from the various areas located in the local districts of Colleferro and Segni. They have been taken provisionally to grounds within the property of a farm in Paliano, in the province of Frosinone.

The animals have been fed, and are being given front line veterinary care and are also being registered and microchipped. Many of them, however, are still in a desperate state of health; almost all of them are seriously malnourished (at the very limits of emaciation) and dehydrated. Many have infectious conditions, both respiratory and intestinal, there are several cases of laminitis and some wounds in advanced stages of suppuration. Worm infestation is rife, including many cases of tapeworm. Many of the mares are pregnant and this will of course eventually add to the numbers.

One colt foal, quite literally extracted alive from deep mud during the first part of the operations, was rushed to the Perugia University Veterinary Clinic by staff from the three charity associations. The same action was considered necessary for a filly foal found on the ground on Monday morning – she would have died within a few more hours had the rescue teams not got to her just in time. Sadly dozens of other poor animals were less fortunate: during the first inspection of the premises three recently dead horses and donkeys were found, while one young horse with very bad colic died shortly after being discovered. The bones of animals left to die of starvation have been found in all areas searched, even in places just a few steps away from the road and from houses (see photo gallery here. Warning, some of the images are very disturbing). Both the foals are responding to treatment, their condition is stable and they are now able to stand up, however the long-term prognosis is still reserved.

Many more animals are still to be located and transferred, from the local districts of Paliano and Valmontone – at present a precise number cannot be given, as the areas have not yet been searched. At least 50 equines and 30 cattle have been estimated, although the number could be much higher.

IHP, Rifugio degli Asinelli (Italian donkey charity), ENPA (the Italian RSPCA) and the UK Donkey Sanctuary are currently paying for hay, medicines, and the transport of the two foals to the Perugia clinic and their treatment there.
Financial aid is urgently needed, even the smallest amount will help a lot.


IMPORTANT NOTE: this is the only collection of funds agreed with the Ministry. Please inform us of any other initiatives for the same emergency, which might only serve to waste resources.

We appeal to all hay merchants and producers in the Rome and Frosinone areas to send us good quality clean hay at a favourable price. Consider that neither the Ministry nor the local councils are able to give funding, thus everything is to be paid for by the charitable associations mentioned above.

For the same reason we appeal to all pharmaceutical companies, vets and suppliers of medical equipment to assist by donating for example, intravenous rehydration liquids, antibiotics, broad spectrum wormers, anti-inflammatories, wound dressings, vetwrap, cotton wool (both gamgee and plain), iodine and chlorine disinfectants, syringes.
To send feedstuffs and medicinal supplies please contact the Ministry task force directly: tutela.animale@sanita.it OR 06 59944035 Monday to Friday 9-13 and 14-17.

Donations of hay and feedstuffs and of medical supplies will receive public acknowledgement.

At the present moment, for organisational and security reasons, it is not possible for volunteers to have access to the confiscated animals, who will be managed and cared for by the hosting farms and the associations involved in the rescue operation.

Once this first phase is completed, decisions will be taken regarding the future placement of the animals, and further communications about this will be released in the next few days. For the moment please do not send requests for adoption to the associations. You may signal your willingness via email to tutela.animale@sanita.it and these will be evaluated in due course.

It goes without saying that the filing of the complaint about this cruelty case goes ahead, led by IHP, and supported by the Italian Donkey Sanctuary and ENPA, and will be pursued until those responsible for this are brought to justice.