NZ adds fines for horse abuse and illegal gelding

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Those in charge of horses must ensure that any halter, lead rope, or other equipment does not cause cuts, abrasions, bleeding or swelling. Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash

Hitting a horse over the head could result in a fine of up to $1500 under new animal welfare regulations in New Zealand.

New regulations to strengthen the country’s animal welfare system have been approved by the Government following delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new regulations relate to a wide variety of animals and procedures, and clarify who can perform significant surgical procedures on animals and in what circumstances.

Under the new regulations, castration of a horse can be carried out only by a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian, and the horse must be given pain relief. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $5000.

Striking a horse on its head is now an offence and those failing to comply are  liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1500.

Failure to protect a tethered horse from weather extremes and not providing food, water and shade leaves the person responsible liable on conviction to a fine of up to $900. It is also an offence to fail to ensure the use of equipment on the horse does not cause injury, or prevents the animal from breathing normally or drinking.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) veterinarian and director for animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell said the majority of the regulations reflect current practice, but some raise the standards under which procedures can be performed.

Only a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian, can castrate a horses. Pain relief must be provided.
Only a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian, can castrate a horses. Pain relief must be provided.

“For example, some regulations … require that pain relief be provided to the animal throughout the procedure.”

The regulations will become law in August 2020. However, to provide time for people to understand their new obligations under the regulations the vast majority will have a delayed commencement and come into force on 9 May 2021.

Most of the regulations have prosecutable offences which could result in fines and criminal convictions. Others are infringement offences, with a penalty fee attached.

“In all cases where there is a severe impact on an animal, a prosecution would be taken directly under the Animal Welfare Act, which has heftier penalties,” Rodwell says.

 

» MPI has added an online tool to find all the requirements for an animal or activity, and provide guidance on regulations and minimum standards and recommended best practices from across the codes of welfare.

The regulations relating to horses are below. The full regulations are here.

18 Horses tethered for purpose of grazing

  1. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a horse that is tethered for the purpose of grazing must ensure that, at all times while the horse is tethered, the horse has access to—
    (a) food; and
    (b) water; and
    (c) shade; and
    (d) protection from extremes of heat and cold.
  2. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $900.
  3. The offence in subclause (2) is an infringement offence with an infringement fee of $300.

19 Use of equipment that may injure horses

  1. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a horse must ensure that—
    (a) any halter, lead rope, or other equipment on the horse’s head or neck does not—
       (i) cause a cut that bleeds or discharges; or
       (ii) cause a skin abrasion that bleeds or discharges; or
       (iii) cause a swelling; or
       (iv) prevent the animal from breathing normally or drinking; and
    (b) any other equipment used on the rest of the horse’s body does not—
       (i) cause a cut that bleeds or discharges; or
       (ii) cause a skin abrasion that bleeds or discharges; or
       (iii) prevent the animal from breathing normally or drinking.
  2. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $900.
  3. The offence in subclause (2) is an infringement offence with an infringement fee of $300.

20 Persons must not strike horse on its head

  1. A person must not strike a horse on its head.
  2. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1500.
  3. The offence in subclause (2) is an infringement offence with an infringement fee of $500.

54 Castrating horses

  1. A person must not castrate a horse unless—
    (a) the person is a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian throughout the procedure; and
    (b) the horse is given pain relief at the time of the procedure.
  2. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a horse must not allow the horse to be castrated in breach of subclause (1).
  3. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction,—
    (a) in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding $5,000; or
    (b) in the case of a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $25,000.
  4. In this regulation, horse means any equid that is a horse or pony, but does not include any other equid referred to in the definition of horse in regulation 3 ([a] any equid, including any horse, pony, or donkey, and any of their hybrids; [b] in any case does not include a zebra).

6 thoughts on “NZ adds fines for horse abuse and illegal gelding

  • July 31, 2020 at 9:22 am
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    This is excellent real progress for New Zealand’s admirable horses. What about the Kaimanawa’s? Will they also be helped?

    Reply
  • July 31, 2020 at 10:02 am
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    Thank you! About time!!

    Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 11:43 am
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    Would like to know why people will be given time to understand and comply with these new regulations. Really!!

    Reply
    • August 6, 2020 at 4:04 am
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      Yes. Why do they need that much time? If this is a requirement to the new law, it should be no more than 3 months! Even that’s too long, but all new laws need time from humans to process.
      Most humans are pretty slow to get things.

      Reply

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