‘Extreme’ cruelty to horses exposed at UZ

Cruelty described as ‘extreme’ and ‘unnecessary’ has been exposed at the veterinary department of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), after the shocking killing of three horses under the department’s care this month.

The horses were given to the department more than six months ago after being abandoned on a farm. The animals were in a terrible condition, but this condition did not improve, despite being under the care of the UZ department.

The Veterinarians for Animal Welfare (VAWZ) group was called in by concerned members of the public, because the horses were visibly not improving. This started a drawn out process with VAWZ trying to force the department to improve the condition of the animals.

VAWZ inspector Meryl Harrison told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that she faced “unnecessary aggression and hostility,” and after months of almost no change, she contacted the department to state VAWZ’s intentions to remove the animals.

She described how she eventually reached the Acting Dean of the department, who shouted at her, insisting the animals were going to be destroyed “because they were no longer of use.” Harrison then rushed to secure the animals’ transport out of the facility, “because there was no reason for them to be destroyed.”

A brief stalemate was reached and during that time VAWZ inspectors tried to see the University’s Vice Chancellor to raise his attention to the situation, but they were unable to meet him. The inspectors were then blocked from seeing the animals for two days, and Harrison said she feared the worst.

The Acting Dean then got back in contact with Harrison and announced the animals had been euthanised, saying: “I did it because I was pissed off that you tried to meet with the Vice Chancellor.”

Harrison explained that she had a hunch that the animals were not destroyed according to procedure, and it turned out the animals were transported live, with bags around their heads to the Lion and Cheetah park, where they faced a cruel death.

“Staff at the park gave us statements and said the horses were dragged out and shot with a humane killer which was placed on the wrong part of their heads. This didn’t penetrate the brain and one of the horses then stood up and staggered several metres before crashing into the side of a trailer. He was then finally killed by being hit on the head with the back of an axe and the other two horses killed in the same manner.”

Harrison said this treatment was “shocking” and clear animal abuse, but the police have refused to prosecute the UZ staff “because it is a state institution.” There has been no comment from the UZ department. – SW Radio Africa News

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