As the number of unrecorded horses is on the rise, the RSPCA is concerned that it will lead to the increase of abandoned horses.
As the number of unrecorded horses is on the rise, the RSPCA is concerned that it will also lead to the increase in abandoned horses.
World Horse Welfare, a horse charity recently conducted a survey which revealed that each year 15,000 horses don’t have passports or have been microchipped in the UK.
World Horse Welfare, one of UK’s popular horse charities contacted 66 Passport Issuing Offices to calculate the number of foals that were unrecorded in the year 2014 in the UK. After gathering data from 38 Passport Issuing Offices who responded, as per the charity’s estimation, about 15,000 horses remain unrecorded.
Unrecorded horses are not microchipped and nor do they have passports. The horse passport contains information about the breed of the horse, and whether it can be used for human consumption after its death or not. This identification exists to help horses get veterinary treatments as well.
As per EU regulations, all equine animals born within the European Union must be identified with a passport. As many horses in the UK don’t have passports nor have they been microchipped, this is an offence. The horse owner will have to pay a fine of £5000 for not getting a passport and microchip for it. There are similar penalties in other EU nations.
However, very few horse owners have been fined in the UK. “The UK’s existing equine identification system is dysfunctional. The key issues are lack of compliance, lack of enforcement of equine law – all made worse by a lack of central database,” says Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare. “The situation has deteriorated further as there is currently no enforceable equine identification regulation in the UK, and there will not be until 2017,”
Hence, horse owners do not get their horse either passports or microchipped, or both. Horses must be microchipped and have a passport before they are six months old, or by 31st of December in the year they are born as stated by EU equine regulations.
Otherwise, horses cannot travel for competitions, or be sold to buyers in different countries within the EU. Owners will not be able to travel or relocate with their horses or transport them across other EU countries.
“Well, I have a passport for my horse, but not a microchip. Our yard is sufficiently secure as it is not close to roads. I don’t see the need for it,” says Mrs. Liz Davis, a horse owner. However, if the horse is lost, then the microchip is used to track its owner, but without one, no one will be responsible for their care. Around 70 per cent of the horses rescued by the RSPCA were not microchipped.
If the horses do not get their passports, the process to determine whether they are edible for consumption or not could be elongated. This has led to decrease of horsemeat export in the UK.
Though the UK is the ninth largest exporter of horsemeat in Europe, the amount of horse carcass export has dropped from 2,271 million tonnes to 1,402 million tonnes between 2011 and 2013.
If this continues, it could potentially reduce the export of horses and horse meat and lead to the increase of abandoned horses in the UK.