Dear Potential RSPCA Horse Foster Carer,

I've been approached by the RSPCA Inspectorate to have as many horse foster carers as possible, throughout the state, be on "standby".  With diminishing feed in many horse owner's paddocks, there are incidences where our inspectors have to make a final decision to seize a horse, for the sake of its health and wellbeing.  We will be relying on foster carers to help with their accommodation and care. 

Please read through the following information about the horse foster carer network (hopefully it will answer most of your questions) and, if you meet the requirements and are keen to continue, please email to the below address.  There will be an Expression of Interest form to complete and then we’ll organise a property check by one of our RSPCA inspectors.

WHY MIGHT A HORSE NEED TO GO INTO FOSTER CARE 
  • In instances of animal cruelty or neglect, the RSPCA inspectors may need to seize a horse from its owner, for the sake of the animal's health and wellbeing.  With diminishing feed in many horse owner's paddocks and an inability or unwillingness to provide supplementary feed, the inspector may have to move quickly to remove the animal from the owner and place it with a suitable foster carer.
  • Very few RSPCA shelters and adoption centres throughout the state have horse yards or paddocks and even the Wacol Animal Care Campus can only hold 2-3 horses at any one time, and only for short periods.  
  • As such, horses who have been seized, who are recovering from malnutrition, illness or a behavioural issue, or who are available for adoption and awaiting a permanent home, may require fostering for a period of time.  

TYPE OF HORSES WHICH REQUIRE FOSTERING 

  • Foster horses will vary in breed, sex, age, temperament, health status and reason for foster.  Carers always have a choice as to which horses they foster or not.  We will never expect you to take on an animal or responsibility that you don't feel comfortable with.  
HOW LONG MIGHT A HORSE BE IN FOSTER FOR?
  • Depending on the reason they are in foster, the carer might expect to have the animal for a few weeks to several months.  Carers will always be asked how long they can keep an individual horse for, before actual placement. 
NOTICE AHEAD OF FOSTERING
  • Obviously we would like to give carers as much notice as possible that a horse needs to be moved onto their property, however, the nature of inspectorate seizes often means movement of the animal has to occur quickly, with little warning to the carer. 

REQUIREMENTS THAT WE ASK OUR CARERS TO MEET

  • LOCATION – anywhere throughout the state;  the more locations the better, because we never know which area the next horse will be seized from
  • PADDOCKS - horses need to be mostly grass-fed and may be supplemented with hard feed (at the RSPCA's expense) if required;  no 100% hard-feeding in stables or pens
  • FENCES – type of fencing material is not as critical as having safe and secure 4ft (min.) fences (internal fences can be electric wire or tape, but perimeter fences need to be solid structures of something like wooden posts, wire and/or pipe)
  • SHELTER -  minimum shelter needs to be a carport-type structure
  • QUARANTINING – carers should have yards or paddocks to enable the separation of the foster horse from other horses (including neighbouring horses) for at least the first week of their stay i.e. no horse-to-horse contact over a fence
  • SUPERVISION – carers living on-site is preferred, however if living off-site, horses must be checked a minimum of once each day (again, the requirements of the individual horse will be discussed with the carer ahead of actual placement)
  • EXPERIENCE WITH HORSES - carers must honestly assess their own horse handling abilities and experience, so that we can match you up to a horse you can safely care for
  • HENDRA VIRUS CONTROLS
    -flowering trees, which attract bats, should not overhang food or water troughs, 
    -if handling bat, carers must adhere to Qld Health recommendations for the safe handling of bats e.g. wearing of PPE
    -basic hygiene protocols e.g. hand-washing, cleaning equipment, covering cuts and abrasions
  • CARER RESPONSIBILITIES - carers are only expected to provide supervision, minimal handling (depending on the horse) and feeding.  No riding, behavioural rehabilitation or intrusive handling.  Your safety is paramount.
HEALTH CHECKS AND TREATMENTS
  • The majority of horses will be moved directly from the owner's property to the foster carer's property and a veterinary visit organised within a few days of arrival to do a health check and to give intestinal wormer and vaccinations and to assess the need for farrier and teeth treatment.  If the foster carer routinely uses a local vet and farrier for their own horses, RSPCA Qld may engage that vet or farrier (at our expense) to service the foster horses. 
COST TO CARERS
  • RSPCA will pay for all health care treatments and farrier visits, hard feed (carers to supply, send receipts and be reimbursed) and any other expenses.
THE NEXT STEP
  • If you meet the above requirements and are happy to proceed as a carer for RSPCA Qld, please email jherbert@rspcaqld.org.au (or call 07 3426 9997 to leave your postal address).  I’ll then send you a questionnaire, asking about your property and fostering capacity.  Upon receipt of the completed questionnaire we will organise a visit by one of our inspectors to check the property in person. 
Thank you for wanting to be a part of the RSPCA Qld State-Wide Horse Foster Network.  Your willingness to help is so appreciated. 

Cheers, 

Jules 
Julie Herbert
State Foster Care Coordinator
RSPCA Wacol
jherbert@rspcaqld.org.au