The rules over long-distance transportation of horses in Europe do not reflect current scientific evidence which shows that horse health and welfare deteriorate on long journeys, a leading international charity says.
While the number of horses transported over long distances has dropped, World Horse Welfare is lobbying the UK government to join many other European countries in calling for a review of the Animal Transport Regulation, under which livestock, including horses, destined for slaughter are transported live for days on end with little food, water or rest.
Several European member states including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark publicly support a change to the Transport Regulation (1/2005) which governs these long-distance journeys — but the UK has not yet given its support and World Horse Welfare believes it should whilst it still remains in the EU.
In part as a result of World Horse Welfare’s campaigning, there has already been important progress made with more horses now being transported in lorries with suitable partitions that reduce injuries and deaths – and according to official figures, the number of horses transported over long distances has dropped from 165,000 in 2001 to 54,000 in 2012, but more still needs to be done.
Since World Horse Welfare began in 1927, the charity has been campaigning to put a stop to the needless long-distance journeys of horses to slaughter and is asking supporters to contact Farming Minister, George Eustice, and Rural Affairs and Biosecurity Minister, Lord Gardiner, urging them to add Britain’s support to the debate and help end the practice which is still endured by more than 50,000 horses every year.
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers said now was the time for supporters and all those who care about horses to put their emotion into action and write to the Government now, while they can still make a real difference.
“While the UK can still influence laws in Europe that affect the welfare of millions of animals including tens of thousands of horses, it should use this opportunity to live up to its values and call for changes to this outdated legislation,” Owers said.
“The rules now cause immense agony and do not reflect current scientific evidence which shows that horse health and welfare deteriorate on long journeys, especially in poor conditions.”
The current transport regulation governs the transport of 1 billion poultry and 37 million cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and equines who are all transported live within and outside Europe each year to slaughter, enduring long, arduous journeys and arriving at their destination weak, injured and exhausted.
A revision of the transport regulation could reduce maximum journey times and aim to improve the quality of transport for animals going to slaughter.
Supporters are urged to take a stand over the issue.