Horse shooting: Watford MP says incident was 'a terrible shame'

Watford Observer: Picture from stock Picture from stock

Watford MP Richard Harrington has described the shooting of two horses in Leavesden as a "terrible shame."

The Conservative MP revealed he is looking into how Three Rivers District Council handled the case when two stray horses were shot dead in Leavesden Country Park on March 4.

He said: "I have asked the council what procedures are in place to ensure that something like this cannot happen in the future, and they have explained that they receive a number of reports of stray horses or fly grazing every year and typically the horses are ‘green yarded’ or taken to a safe place while the owners are traced."

The Tory MP added: "This incident in Leavesden may be isolated, and in the extreme, but it is still understandably upsetting and very sad. I am awaiting further answers from the council and am happy to discuss this further with constituents if they would like to contact me."

Police were called to the scene after two stray horses were spotted by members of the public.

The Racehorse Rescue Centre is hoping the Conservative MP will support a petition that is demanding answers from the council over their handling of the case.

Nearly 7000 people have signed the petition that is questioning why a "gun wielding man on a quad bike" was allowed onto public land.

Nigel Wood, Chairman of The Racehorse Rescue Centre said: "The petition is nearly at 7,000 signatures now and we’re hoping for Richard to start an investigation into how the case was handled and the way the council did it."

He added: "It should have been done in a better way. It just wasn’t handled right."

Councillor Ann Shaw, Leader of Three Rivers Council, defended the council’s position.

She said: "Given the advice of the police and the equine body that advised us, I understand why the staff took the decision that they did."

The Liberal Democrat added: "I know that our staff had one idea and the police took another view.

Richard Harrington MP said: "The council believe that there was a very real danger to the public, including children considering the location, and that there was a very real risk of the horses escaping on to the A41."

Mr Wood said that the council and police should have consulted more with people with specialist knowledge of horses.

He said: "Whoever’s made the decision didn’t have a clue about horses and it just sounds like a reckless decision that was made without the proper information and support."

The charity chairman added: "Give them a bucket and feed, let them relax, let them calm down. Chasing them round all the time is just going to get them more and more wound up and that’s not the way to catch a horse, because they’re a flight animal and they’ll just keep running and running."

Comments (9)

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6:29pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Sara says...

Does Mr Wood know what actually happened? The council officer first on the scene had a 'specialist knowledge of horses' as did the member of the equine group that came to help. Nor were the ponies 'chased around all the time'. In fact they weren't chased around at all. A number of attempts to catch them were made over a four hour period.

One if not both of the ponies went out of the park. The sun had set and the police were worried that the ponies would get onto Woodside Road, College Road or the A405. If that had happened, the likelihood of a road traffic accident became quite high. The police then ordered that the horses be shot on public safety grounds.

What would people have thought has the ponies trampled a child or caused an accident on the roads? Would the council/police have been asked why they did not take action earlier? Mr Harrington says that the council believed that there was a public danger. The council did not make that decision. The police did.

No one wants to destroy two animals, however poor their condition or lacking their ownership. This has happened several times in the past and the council has either found the owners or gave captured the animals and taken them to a temporary home. This tine the police believed that they could not continue with that level of public risk and so gave the orders.
Does Mr Wood know what actually happened? The council officer first on the scene had a 'specialist knowledge of horses' as did the member of the equine group that came to help. Nor were the ponies 'chased around all the time'. In fact they weren't chased around at all. A number of attempts to catch them were made over a four hour period. One if not both of the ponies went out of the park. The sun had set and the police were worried that the ponies would get onto Woodside Road, College Road or the A405. If that had happened, the likelihood of a road traffic accident became quite high. The police then ordered that the horses be shot on public safety grounds. What would people have thought has the ponies trampled a child or caused an accident on the roads? Would the council/police have been asked why they did not take action earlier? Mr Harrington says that the council believed that there was a public danger. The council did not make that decision. The police did. No one wants to destroy two animals, however poor their condition or lacking their ownership. This has happened several times in the past and the council has either found the owners or gave captured the animals and taken them to a temporary home. This tine the police believed that they could not continue with that level of public risk and so gave the orders. Sara
  • Score: 8

7:10pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Retlas says...

What influence has Richard Harrington over the SW Herts Constituency? This is notihng to do with the Watford MP.

David Gauke should be involved in this, if it is a matter for MP's.

Ultimately there were mistakes made but trying to score political points I find repulsIve.
What influence has Richard Harrington over the SW Herts Constituency? This is notihng to do with the Watford MP. David Gauke should be involved in this, if it is a matter for MP's. Ultimately there were mistakes made but trying to score political points I find repulsIve. Retlas
  • Score: 3

7:40pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Sara says...

It's in Watford constituency, not SW Herts.
It's in Watford constituency, not SW Herts. Sara
  • Score: 5

11:43pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Retlas says...

I can only comment on the facts as presented.
Councillor Ann Shaw, Leader of Three Rivers Council has commented on this so I presumed that it is not in Watford Borough.
If the shooting happened in Watford why would a Three rivers councilor have to make any statement?
Surely that would be be Dorothy Thornhills domain?
(I thought Leavesden Park came into the Three Rivers District which is SW Herts but I am open to correction)
I can only comment on the facts as presented. Councillor Ann Shaw, Leader of Three Rivers Council has commented on this so I presumed that it is not in Watford Borough. If the shooting happened in Watford why would a Three rivers councilor have to make any statement? Surely that would be be Dorothy Thornhills domain? (I thought Leavesden Park came into the Three Rivers District which is SW Herts but I am open to correction) Retlas
  • Score: -1

12:44am Fri 11 Apr 14

Sara says...

Watford constituency is comprised of twelve wards from Watford Borough and five wards from Three Rivers..
Watford constituency is comprised of twelve wards from Watford Borough and five wards from Three Rivers.. Sara
  • Score: 7

3:00pm Fri 11 Apr 14

cameluk says...

Heavy handed technique by all those involved, haven't they heard of a tranquilliser dart. The police are happy to close major roads for hours while they investigate traffic accidents but didn't close local roads until the situation was resolved, sounds like they took the easy way out and killed two horses needlessly
Heavy handed technique by all those involved, haven't they heard of a tranquilliser dart. The police are happy to close major roads for hours while they investigate traffic accidents but didn't close local roads until the situation was resolved, sounds like they took the easy way out and killed two horses needlessly cameluk
  • Score: -5

3:07pm Fri 11 Apr 14

Nascot says...

Agreed that it is a shame they ended up being shot, but the circumstances of exactly what happpened and the efforts taken to NOT destroy them were fully reported in an earlier story.

By the way the picture accompanying this story is stock photo and not of the horses themselves. I wager they did not look as fit and healthy as that
Agreed that it is a shame they ended up being shot, but the circumstances of exactly what happpened and the efforts taken to NOT destroy them were fully reported in an earlier story. By the way the picture accompanying this story is stock photo and not of the horses themselves. I wager they did not look as fit and healthy as that Nascot
  • Score: 3

3:08pm Fri 11 Apr 14

Sara says...

Good reasons why tranx couldn't be used. It doesn't work immediately and in meantime animal more distressed and out on control. Also licence needed to operate tranx gun is different.

The fault should be placed on the 'owner' who didn't secure the animals, didn't cone to claim them and hadn't chipped to show ownership details.
Good reasons why tranx couldn't be used. It doesn't work immediately and in meantime animal more distressed and out on control. Also licence needed to operate tranx gun is different. The fault should be placed on the 'owner' who didn't secure the animals, didn't cone to claim them and hadn't chipped to show ownership details. Sara
  • Score: 4

2:08pm Sat 12 Apr 14

MrsR85 says...

I must say I am appalled at the nasty comments given to this council officer by the likes of Mr Wood and many others like him. Was he there that day? No - but I was. The Council lady did NOT chase the horses around for hours, she kept them quiet and kept everybody in the park away, asking them to put dogs on leads and walk in a different part of the park. She called for help and 2 men from a horse charity arrived soon afterwards. They all tried to catch the horses and did everything Mr Wood has said they "should have done". The horses kept going onto the road and that is why she had to call the police. While waiting for the police she used the help of a local lady to try to find the owners, she was on the phone the whole time. They then decided to try to make an enclosure but she couldn't get the barriers there until the next day. She couldn't "just shut the park gates" as the park HAS no gates. I asked her how things were going and she said "I need more people here who know what they are doing to help us, we cant get near them with just 3 of us but I cant get anyone until tomorrow, I am running out of time". The police were saying they were worried the horses would get out onto the road through the night. This was a very real possibility especially as they had already been on the road that day. A difficult situation for the council and the police to be in. As has been said in a previous post, what would the headlines be if that had happened and somebody had been hurt or killed? no win situation for the police and council. I would ask Mr Wood does the council lady know you? I suspect not. Would you take in these horses? you call yourself Racehorse Rescue so again, I suspect not. It is the owners of these horses who should be receiving these vile comments not the council or police who have to deal with them. I am pleased we have someone like her in Three Rivers, the outcome must of devastated her but because she works for the council she is easy pickings.
I must say I am appalled at the nasty comments given to this council officer by the likes of Mr Wood and many others like him. Was he there that day? No - but I was. The Council lady did NOT chase the horses around for hours, she kept them quiet and kept everybody in the park away, asking them to put dogs on leads and walk in a different part of the park. She called for help and 2 men from a horse charity arrived soon afterwards. They all tried to catch the horses and did everything Mr Wood has said they "should have done". The horses kept going onto the road and that is why she had to call the police. While waiting for the police she used the help of a local lady to try to find the owners, she was on the phone the whole time. They then decided to try to make an enclosure but she couldn't get the barriers there until the next day. She couldn't "just shut the park gates" as the park HAS no gates. I asked her how things were going and she said "I need more people here who know what they are doing to help us, we cant get near them with just 3 of us but I cant get anyone until tomorrow, I am running out of time". The police were saying they were worried the horses would get out onto the road through the night. This was a very real possibility especially as they had already been on the road that day. A difficult situation for the council and the police to be in. As has been said in a previous post, what would the headlines be if that had happened and somebody had been hurt or killed? no win situation for the police and council. I would ask Mr Wood does the council lady know you? I suspect not. Would you take in these horses? you call yourself Racehorse Rescue so again, I suspect not. It is the owners of these horses who should be receiving these vile comments not the council or police who have to deal with them. I am pleased we have someone like her in Three Rivers, the outcome must of devastated her but because she works for the council she is easy pickings. MrsR85
  • Score: 1

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