World Horse Welfare launched its latest campaign today in Wales and is encouraging people in the country to contact their recently elected Members of the Senedd (MSs) and call on them to pledge to protect and improve equine welfare during the next five years.
Although significant advances in protecting equine welfare have already been made in Wales, the charity’s #ActNow4Horses campaign is encouraging the new Senedd, elected in May this year, to build on these successes and position Wales as a leader in equine welfare.
World Horse Welfare is encouraging MSs to commit to actively supporting a number of proposed laws and animal lovers across Wales are encouraged to contact their local MSs by email or letter and request that they pledge to #ActNow4Horses.
Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare said: “A key focus for this campaign is ensuring all equines are identified and traceable, because our other proposals to improve equine welfare all depend on accurately identifying equines at all stages of their lives.
“The introduction of microchipping for all equines was a fantastic step forward,” he said “but the legislation did not go far enough. We believe a frictionless and digitised equine ID system is the only answer and is a fundamental requirement for all other equine welfare legislation to work and be enforceable, so we urge people to ask their MSs for this.”
The charity argues that the current paper passport system is too open to fraud, with evidence showing that horses are exported unnecessarily long distances on fake passports to slaughter and in poor welfare conditions. The legislation that is currently going through the UK Parliament – and which is intended to also apply to Wales – to ban live exports to slaughter is welcome, but without closing the loopholes in the Equine ID system it is simply not enforceable. This needs to be addressed urgently.
The other proposals include licensing of sanctuaries, rescue and rehoming centres to ensure that equines taken in are given the protection they deserve, building on the Welsh voluntary code of practice for animal welfare establishments; improved welfare during transport; the introduction of a centralised database of all premises where equines are kept, including recording the type of activity (such as breeder or dealer) taking place; improved welfare on the commons and mountains and updating the out-dated system of licensing of riding establishments.
Collectively, the changes the charity is calling for have the potential to significantly improve the welfare of equines in Wales, if they are acted upon.
World Horse Welfare highlighted some of the key issues for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids to prospective candidates ahead of the Welsh Parliamentary elections on 6 May this year. Now the charity say they need the public’s support to ensure MSs will act on these issues.
Since World Horse Welfare was formed in 1927, by working with horse owners, communities, organisations and governments it has influenced more than 50 pieces of legislation, including the Control of Horses Act in England, and protecting horses going to slaughter.