The stress, dehydration and exhaustion caused to horses through long-haul journeys across Europe to slaughter plants is completely unacceptable, the head of a leading equine charity says.
The chief executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers, has reiterated the charity’s view that if horses are bound for slaughter, it should be done as close to source as possible.
The British-based international organisation has renewed its push to bring an end to the long journeys endured by many horses in Europe on the way to slaughter.
It says more than 50,000 horses faces such journeys each year, amounting to around 130 horses each day.
It says they travel thousands of miles across Europe by road before eventually arriving at their destination suffering fatigue, severe stress and broken in spirit.
The European law currently allows these journeys to last for up to 24 hours at a time, but the charity says it is an ongoing cycle that can last for days on end. The charity says it is failing horses and it is determined to bring change.
It is calling on its supporters to sign a petition calling on the European Commission to impose a maximum journey limit of 9-12 hours, which its own scientific advisers have recommended. This, it said, would dramatically improve the health and welfare of the horses, as well as making the regulation easier to enforce.
Until current rules, horses were subjected to the completely unnecessary torment of long-haul transport on their way to slaughter, it said.
Since launching in May, the campaign has gathered more than 13,000 signatures and World Horse Welfare will soon be launching concurrent campaigns in Poland, Italy and Spain. It says it still needs vital support from the public in Britain in order to boost its impact while the country is still part of the European Union.
World Horse Welfare has campaigned to end the long-distance transport of horses to slaughter across Europe since the charity was founded in 1927 and with the help of its dedicated supporters has brought about a number of key improvements, reducing the number of horses transported from 165,000 in 2001 to around 50,000 today and introducing partitions in trucks to prevent severe overcrowding and trampling.
This latest campaign is another step towards its goal of ending the long-distance transport of horses across Europe for slaughter by its 100th anniversary in 2027.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has supported our campaign so far, signing and sharing our petition and donating to our appeal,” Owers said. “But we must keep momentum going and continue pressing the European Commission to impose a 9-12 hours maximum journey limit.
“The stress, dehydration and exhaustion caused by these arduous journeys is completely unacceptable and if horses are to be slaughtered, we believe it should be done as close to source as possible.
“The successes that have been achieved in our campaign over the last 90 years have only been realised due to the unfailing dedication of our supporters and we need as many people as possible to share news of this latest campaign so that we can reach our goal to bring about this vital change in legislation.”