Ōpōtiki District Council’s Planning and Regulatory Group Manager, Gerard McCormack has said enough is enough and that if several identified horses are caught in the township again, there would be no option left but to remove the horses permanently or have them put down.

Three horses have been impounded repeatedly and each time have been broken out of the pound or taken as they are being loaded on to floats to be removed from the district.

“We just cannot allow this to continue. These horses have been found on roads and on other people’s property and it is too much of a risk to public safety.

“The owners have been warned repeatedly and the Police are involved but at the moment the owners are simply taking the horses from the pound or using standover tactics to take the horses from rehoming agencies who have been engaged to take the horses out of the district.

“It isn’t he horses fault and clearly I don’t want to be responsible for the euthanasia of a healthy horse. But I am simply out of options here. This is last warning to the owners – remove your horses from the urban area and ensure they are contained and well-cared for or Council will find a permanent solution,” Mr McCormack said. 

Mr McCormack also noted that the damage to council property and the time taken to catch the animals each time they were stolen from the pound was costing ratepayer money.

“We have seen some positive change from horse owners around town since horse numbers peaked during lockdown and it is excellent to see we are getting back to a more sustainable level. Horses around the urban area are part of what makes Ōpōtiki special and I understand that and most responsible owners find that balance.

“But we have had some recent accidents with roaming horses on our roads so we know that there are lives at risk when horses aren’t contained.

“We will have one last attempt to resolve this with Police and the owners, but the situation with the three horses is simply dangerous and I cannot allow it to continue,” Mr McCormack said.