Dogs rescued from Funny Farm

Owner calls for more resources and fewer raids

Funny Farm owner Sue Arnett said the dogs were fed every day, pointing out that her farm was meant for horses not dogs. Photo: Jason Borg.

Funny Farm owner Sue Arnett said the dogs were fed every day, pointing out that her farm was meant for horses not dogs. Photo: Jason Borg.

Five emaciated dogs were re-moved from the well-known Funny Farm Horse Rescue centre in Bidnija yesterday morning during a raid by animal welfare officers.

Three of the skinny dogs, some of them skeletal-looking, were said to have been malnourished and the other two were reported to have sand-fly.

The raid was made following a report by a former volunteer who said the dogs were being kept in a "horrendous" state, "roasting in their unsheltered pens with no water" and "rarely, if ever, exercised".

However, during the inspection it was discovered that the dogs were kept in adequate conditions and most of them were well-fed, except for the ones that were taken away, veterinarian Patrick Caruana said.

"It's strange because out of about 20 dogs, only these were in a bad condition. It could be a case of neglect but it could also be lack of resources. Then again, if you have limited resources you have to stop taking in more animals," he said.

He added that during the raid the horses were also inspected and found to be in good health.

The farm hosts 23 horses and 25 dogs. When contacted, owner Sue Arnett insisted she "doesn't do dogs".

"We run a horse rescue association, the only one on the island. When it comes to dogs I have told various sanctuaries that I am not into dogs. But they keep coming because the other sanctuaries are full," she said.

She said she would "give her blessing" to have all the dogs removed if there was a guarantee they would be kept safely.

She said she was sometimes criticised because the dogs were kept in enclosures and pens, insisting that this was better than having them living on the street.

"There was never a policy for dogs. Funny Farm is for horses only but when you are asked to take care of an unwanted dog, what would you do? Leave it outside?"

She said she paid for the dogs' upkeep because the Funny Farm association was specifically for horses so she could not use any of its funds for the dogs.

"I very much regretted that the dogs went. I don't agree that they were underfed. They were fed every day.

They are skeletal because they are sick. Obviously, we were feeding and looking after them as much as we could."

Ms Arnett said she would prefer more government support, funding and recognition for her work rather than raids and inspections.

"We get nothing. Zilch. Nothing. Everything we do we do it out of our own pockets," she said, adding it cost about €150 per month to feed a horse.

She said she had now decided to stop taking in more horses because the farm was at full capacity.

Funny Farm, which has been described as an "old horses' home", specialises in rescuing and rehabilitating horses that are under threat of being put down, slaughtered or mistreated.

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