DISCLAIMER: Some people may find the following video and photos distressing.
A shocked eyewitness alerted animal welfare chiefs to a dying cow in a village near Market Harborough 10 days before they took action.
The ‘distraught’ local man informed the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on Friday February 25 that the entire herd kept in a half-strangled field in Clipston was ’emaciated and neglected’.
And he spoke to an APHA officer for more than 40 minutes on Monday February 28 as he spelled out the terrible plight of the cows.
But it wasn’t until last Monday (7 March) that agency staff, supported by an RSPCA officer and an independent vet, finally came out to examine and assess the animals on land off the Sibbertoft road in Clipstone.
The cow was finally put to sleep.
We published the heartbreaking story in the Harborough Mail on Wednesday March 9 after a horrified woman walking past sent us pictures of the doomed cow.
“What were they doing and waiting for in the meantime, for heaven’s sake?”
“I did what I could to help this very unfortunate cow and the rest of the scruffy hungry herd.
“But I cannot force the government department that is supposed to look after the farm’s livestock and maintain proper welfare standards to go out and do their job,” said the villager, who asked not to be named. .
“The people who work for this official agency are all funded by us as taxpayers.
“So why aren’t they doing the crucial tasks we pay them for?”
“I decided to contact you after reading your story in the Mail earlier this week.
“It is absolutely outrageous.
“I contacted the Animal and Plant Health Agency at 8:56 p.m. on Friday February 25.
“I was walking with my girlfriend and we spotted these miserable cows in this pathetic excuse for a field.
“It was so muddy the cow in the photos couldn’t move, she was totally stuck.
“It was heartbreaking to watch,” he said.
“I cannot stand willful neglect or cruelty to animals of any type.
“So I reported what we had seen and told them where that herd was.
“I received a response from someone in the APHA customer service team at 9:09am on Monday 28th February.
“She asked me for details on whether the beasts had access to food/water/shelter and a dry resting place etc.
“So I called them directly and spoke to an officer there for over 46 minutes.
“I gave them chapters and verses about the seriousness of the situation there and made it clear to them that those cows needed urgent help.
“They promised to investigate.
“And I expected them to do it right away.
“So to read in the Mail that this helpless cow was still lying there in the mud and filth as her life passed away a week later shocked me to the core,” he said.
“It’s a total shame.
“These cows were so emaciated, so hungry, that I could see their bones sticking out.
“It’s inhuman, it’s cruel and it’s intolerable.
“No animal should have to endure this level of pain and distress.
“The farmer should be reprimanded, he shouldn’t take care of the cattle at all.
“And the people at the Animal and Plant Health Agency also have some serious questions to answer, because their response has been appalling.”
Asked to respond to criticism this afternoon, an APHA spokeswoman again declined to discuss the incident.
She simply referred us to the statement they gave us earlier this week: “We take potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and the APHA is investigating all allegations.
“When social regulations are violated, appropriate action is taken.”
She said they would not comment on individual cases and declined to say whether action was being taken against the local farmer involved.
A stunned motorist took these photos in the article of the fatally ill cow as she drove through Clipston on Monday morning (March 7).
The animal was lying on its side, unable to move, but can be seen blinking poignantly in a video the driver took of its sickening plight.
“I was driving along Chapel Lane in Clipston when I suddenly spotted this cow lying there in the thick mud.
“The animal was lying on its side a few centimeters from the railing and a few meters from the road,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
“The field was full of deep mud and I couldn’t see any grass for the animals to eat.
“I jumped out of the car and walked over it fearing the worst thinking the cow was already dead.
“But the poor thing was still barely breathing, hissing and shaking.
“I was horrified, it was just awful.
“So I took these photos and the video to record the hellish ordeal of this cow.
“No animal, whether it’s your pet or your farmyard livestock, should have to suffer and die like this,” she said.
“The farmer who owns this cow should be ashamed.
“We are dealing here with gross negligence at best and cruelty at worst.
“I’m just glad I didn’t have my grandchildren with me in the car – they would have been upset.
“Other drivers slowed down and stared at this dying cow after I stopped.
“They were just as shocked and upset as I was, but they didn’t seem particularly surprised.”
The RSPCA also declined to comment, saying the Animal and Plant Health Agency was investigating the matter.