Four equine charities have joined forces to promote global welfare standards adopted this year by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The four – The Donkey Sanctuary, The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), World Horse Welfare and Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys – say that the time is now for coordinated action to make improved welfare a reality for working equids across the world.
The standards, which entitle donkeys, horses and mules to basic needs such as food, water and shelter, have been welcomed as a milestone in improving equine welfare. However, they are not the law. To help governments implement the standards, technical experts from the four charities had a joint poster displayed at last week’s OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare in Mexico. The event was attended by policy makers from 180 member states around the globe.
The four charities promoted their message of collaboration and how they can offer a wealth of expertise to help implement the standards, by assessing welfare, equipping service providers like farriers, saddlers and vets and helping develop tertiary education.
Stephen Blakeway, International Department director at The Donkey Sanctuary said there was no longer any excuse for donkeys, mules and horses to be invisible. “Now we can all align our work to the standards and provide strong case studies showing how improved welfare benefits donkeys and people socially and economically.”
World Horse Welfare Head of International Programme Development, Karen O’Malley, said the OIE standard was a positive and important step in helping working equids to become visible to policy makers. “We will continue to support national government initiatives to make this standard a reality in many countries around the world.”
Karen Reed, Head of Animal Welfare Capacity at Brooke agreed. She said: “Brooke supported the OIE in developing the working equine welfare standards, and we were delighted to see them adopted. Of course, the challenge now is to implement them. We’re pleased to be working with like-minded organisations to support the OIE and their member states to make this happen. As well as working with policy makers, it’s very important to work directly with the communities that rely on horses, donkeys and mules, and empower local vets and farriers. We specialise in building capacity so that these people can become self-sufficient animal welfare advocates.”
SPANA Veterinary Programmes Director Francesca Compostella said the OIE document represented a “momentous milestone”, giving international recognition to the equines who play a fundamental role in guaranteeing the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide.
“Thanks to the OIE, we now have an invaluable tool to achieve widespread, lasting change to the welfare of working equids around the world.”