News

Euthanasia hoax a complete success

By Daneka Hill

A MARKETING ploy threatening to have horses euthanised at the Echuca saleyards, was smashed online late last week — and the man behind the hoax couldn’t be happier.

When the Andrew Wilson & Co agency posted the story that claimed “if a horse does not receive a bid they will be euthanised on-site so please come and bid” it became an immediate sensation online with thousands of people demanding action and condemning the sale.

But auctioneer Andrew Wilson said his plan undoubtedly saved the lives of many horses in the regular Echuca horse sale.

“There are a lot of people here who weren’t here before,’’ Mr Wilson observed.

Not only did he have to admit no horses would be put down, Campaspe Shire was another to wade into the instant digital debacle saying:

‘‘Campaspe Shire Council does not support, or allow, voluntary euthanasia of horses on site at the livestock exchange’’.

Many Echuca sale regulars, such as Barry Gurnett from Lake Boga, said the Friday crowd was the largest in a long time.

Normally handling 120 to 150 horses Mr Wilson’s fortnightly horse auctions have increased to 200 as NSW horses are given oneway tickets by their droughtaffected owners.

Drought horses, most of them underfed yearlings, had been previously selling for as little as $10 at the Echuca auction – bad business for Mr Wilson, who earns a fee on every sale he makes.

The alarming post also drew Strong Hearts Farm Sanctuary, which was transporting horses to temporary homes arranged locally by the rescue group.

Strong Hearts was in the middle of the online response after their re-post of Andrew Wilson & Co’s statement reached more than 60,000 people in less than 12 hours.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” said Jess, a Strong Hearts founder.

Jess did not want her last name reported but still spoke to the Riverine Herald at the auctions.

“We will not bid against other homes, we will only bid on horses who have doggers bidding on them,” she said.

But she warned her group strongly discouraged people impulse buying in reaction to fear mongering or pity buying even though it was only too aware of the reality for many of the horses in the yard.

Mark O’Connor from Rochester said the NSW horses were “lucky to be breathing” and were likely going to end up ‘‘in a can’’.

Despite saying he couldn’t really afford to feed another horse Mr O’Connor admitted there was one that had caught his eye and he would buy if it proved cheap enough.

Jennifer Goldsack and Christine Mcnamai were also at the auction in search of bargain ponies.

Mrs Mcnamai said Mr Wilson's hosting of so many drought horses was ‘‘a lovely thing’’ but Mrs Goldsack said it was heartbreaking for the owners.

“I know it must be breaking their hearts because I know it would break mine but they don’t have a choice, either watch them starve to death in a paddock or send them down here and hope someone picks them up,” she said.

And despite the larger than usual catalogue, Andrew Wilson said the sale was a total clearance.