EU urged to “call time” on long distance horse transport

World Horse Welfare is calling for major changes to protect horses being transported in Europe, as the EU reviews its animal transport legislation for the first time in 17 years.
World Horse Welfare is calling for major changes to protect horses being transported in Europe. © World Horse Welfare

Stricter laws to stop horses suffering needlessly long journeys across Europe to slaughter are being called for at the highest levels as the European Union undertakes the first review of its animal transport legislation in 17 years.

A new “Time’s Up” appeal launched by international charity World Horse Welfare aims to support what it is calling a once-in-a-generation opportunity to stop the suffering of horses in the slaughter trade.

With the topic being discussed at the highest level, the charity believes that this offers the best chance for change in decades. Donations to the appeal will mean that World Horse Welfare can continue to ensure that horses have a voice at EU level.

With evidence that around 20,000 horses are still being transported long distances across Europe to slaughter each year, World Horse Welfare recently launched a report – years in the making – with key recommendations that the charity believes will dramatically improve the welfare of horses being transported.

Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive said the horses can travel for days over thousands of miles with little chance to rest, eat or drink.

“They become exhausted, stressed and severely dehydrated; many are in pain and all are suffering unnecessarily on these journeys. Every single horse transported in this way is one too many.

“Nearly 100 years ago our inspirational founder, Ada Cole, realised that something must be done about the suffering of horses during long journeys across Europe to slaughter. Fast-forward to 2022 and there is now an opportunity to stop this needless trade for good,” Owers said.

He said the number of horses being transported in this way has dropped hugely over the years – from 165,000 in 2001 to around 20,000 today: “But it’s time we consign this practice to the history books.”

The charity is calling for:

  • A maximum, finite 12-hour journey limit for horses intended for slaughter.
  • Any journey over four hours being defined as a long journey.
  • Compulsory and species-specific training for anyone involved in transporting horses.
  • A review of the minimum space given to each horse.
  • Changing the definition of ‘fit or transport’ to include that the horse must arrive at their destination in a fit state.
  • For horses to have access to forage and constant drinking water for at least six hours before the start of their journey.
  • For all of these rules to be properly enforced to ensure horse welfare.

Owers said supporters had already made a huge difference by supporting the charity’s research and helping itget the voices of these horses heard at the highest level.

“Together our campaigning is a powerful tool and with your support of our appeal we can make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change EU law and end this horrific trade once and for all.”

» Help World Horse Welfare to call “Time’s Up”

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