THE RSPCA says it has "serious concerns" about the welfare of a foal photographed by a member of the public at a council-run travellers' site.

But it said the animal could not be found at the site when its officers visited this week.

Images of a thin foal, thought to be less than a year old and wearing makeshift tack, have been circulating online.

The photos were taken on Monday at the Bradford Council-run Esholt travellers' site by a woman, who asked not to be identified.

The woman, who said she had experience of caring for horses, told the Telegraph & Argus she was passing by the site when she spotted the "emaciated" animal and took some photos.


She said: "I was out running with some friends, who were equally appalled, and they are not even horsey.

"I took one photo at quite close range, which is horrific, of its neck.

"It's a baby. We believe it is last year's foal. They shouldn't be breaking it in."

The woman said she reported the foal to the RSPCA, but when she visited the site later that day, the animal was no longer there.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA has serious concerns about the welfare of the horse in the image which is circulating on social media.

"The RSPCA has been to this travellers' site several times and is checking on the welfare of the animals there regularly - most recently on Monday - and will be making further visits over the next few days.

"Our officers have yet to see a youngster as depicted in the photographs.

"Contrary to the postings on social media, we do not think it is okay for any equine to be broken in like this.

"We cannot go into details of an ongoing investigation but we want to reassure the public we are doing all we can to help these horses.

"We are reviewing all the new information that has come into us and are taking this extremely seriously."

Concerns about the welfare of horses and dogs at the site were discussed at a full council meeting on Tuesday, when campaigners handed in a petition calling for the council to act on allegations of unlicensed breeding and breaches of tenancy rules.

Then, council leader David Green said there was currently "insufficient evidence" of breaches of breeding rules, but said the authority's investigation was ongoing.

Yesterday, a council spokesman said: "We have been working with RSPCA officers in their ongoing investigations, as was stated at the recent council meeting, and if any new evidence comes to light we will ensure that those concerns are also investigated."