The annual gathering of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the town of Appleby in Cumbria begins on Thursday (June 9), and typically sees up to 40,000
visitors across the four-day event.
Every year, a team from the RSPCA attends to be on-hand offering welfare advice and support for the hundreds of horses brought to the fair, joined by equine charities British Horse Society, Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, The Donkey Sanctuary, Oak Tree Animals Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare - as well as a group of vets.
Last year, RSPCA Chief Inspector Rob Melloy and his team witnessed an alarming number of puppies being sold and bought at the fair, many who were very sick,
and he is keen to warn off people from doing so this year.
He said: “I can’t emphasise enough to Appleby visitors, that buying a puppy from the fair is really not a good idea. Last year we saw a lot of puppies being
sold and some were so sick they had to be put to sleep by a vet. It is so tragic, but if people continue to buy them at the fair, breeders will continue to bring them each year. We always recommend people adopt a rescue dog, but those who are looking to buy a puppy should do plenty of research to make sure they only buy from reputable breeders. The Puppy Contract is a really useful tool and we strongly urge people to follow our advice on how to avoid bad breeders.
“Similarly, we strongly advise people not to bring their own pet dogs to the event, as it’s incredibly crowded and noisy, and there’s no way they should ever be left in a vehicle either, so they are much better off at home.”
Fair-goers can approach Rob and his team of RSPCA officers at the event if they have any concerns for animal welfare. They can also approach police officers and staff from the other attending welfare groups if they are concerned for the welfare of any horses, dogs or other animals
Rob added: “Of course horses are the main attraction of the fair, and we’re always on hand to offer welfare advice. The fair can be very physically demanding on the horses and they can tire very quickly after even just the first day, so it’s essential they are given enough rest and water.
“We often see different people with the same animal as they are exchanged at the event and they may not be aware of how much work it has done that day or on previous days at the fair. We will have a team of vets with us for the event who will be able to carry out exhaustion and fitness tests - we won’t tolerate horses being overworked.”
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.