#act4equines: Europe must act on horse welfare
In 2014, Eurogroup for Animals launched an important project to ensure EU’s 6 million horses and 1.5 million donkeys are covered by species specific legislation.
About the issue
Currently there is no specific EU legislation in place to safeguard the welfare of Europe’s equines despite the contribution of equine industry to Europe’s economies. Across Europe we see equines falling in between the cracks of laws designed to protect farm animals and pets. This is in part because equines are uniquely versatile animals which can play so many different roles during their lives, from working animal, to sport animal, to pet, to food source. As a result, equines face numerous challenges to their welfare and health, and indeed human health may also be affected. Furthermore, the equine sector continues to grow and as equines are one of the most frequently traded and transported animals in Europe they are in urgent need of protection.
The need for EU action
Whilst equine animals on farms have the same level of protection as any other farmed animal the European Commission recognises that there are gaps in the welfare legislation when they are considered as companion animals. We need to consider what impact this has had and how to respond.
Futhermore, several areas of welfare concerns exist and most of these problems are pan-European and need addressing at EU level including: improved identification and registration, better education on keeping and training, a ban on long distance transport to slaughter, the need for humane slaughtering and last but not least much more focus on effective law and enforcement.
In partnership with World Horse Welfare, Eurogroup for Animals together with all its members involved in equine welfare have now started a research process mapping the equine sector, the role of regulation and key equine welfare and health issues. This mapping will further explore the equine areas of concern.
The success of the research will depend on the contribution and quality of the data available at member state level. The result of the research will be published in a report at the end of 2014 with clear and concrete recommendations.
(Picture credit: Valdemar Fishmen/flickr.com)