Aust bushfires add to urgency for national horse register

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© Daniel Cleaveley  [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Australia’s catastrophic bushfires have reinforced calls for the immediate implementation of a national horse register.

Such a register would provide traceability to ensure that we can easily return horses to their rightful owner following any natural disaster, said Dr Sam Nugent, President of the Australian Veterinary Association’s (AVA) Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA) group. Earlier this month the group said it would lobby the Federal Government for a register, following welfare issues relating to the slaughter of former racehorses.

Nugent said bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland, plus those earlier this year in Victoria, reinforce the need for a national horse register.

“If we review the evidence from the extreme bushfires in Victoria this year, we found that tracing the owners of horses which were found after the event, sometimes injured and in need of treatment, was extremely difficult”, he said.

The EVA is urging all horse owners to act to ensure that the identity of their horses is secured.

Electronic identification of horses and the implementation of a national horse register is essential for traceability, not just in natural disasters, but throughout a horse’s life. Microchips allow operators to identify individual animals by means of a unique identification number. The implanted microchips must conform to Australian Standard AS 5019-2001, and should an animal change ownership or residence, the system can be updated to ensure accurate records are on file.

“Improved traceability of all horses is essential to ensure the best possible health and welfare outcomes for all horses during the course of their lives,” the EVA said.

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