Charities, including the RSPCA, Redwings and World Horse Welfare, urge Westminster to follow suit after minister Alun Davies says he will announce plans to combat problem.
A group of horse charities have welcomed plans by the Welsh Government to introduce legislation to tackle fly grazing of horses and ponies and are urging Westminster to follow suit to help stem what it calls a “horse crisis” that is “escalating across the country”.
Alun Davies, minister for natural resources and food in Wales, announced plans to create or amend legislation as well as introduce other measures to combat the problem on July 18 (2013), following an eight-week consultation on the matter. However, the UK Government has no such plans in England at a time when charities Redwings, the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, The British Horse Society, Blue Cross and HorseWorld claim “thousands of horses” are at risk of suffering and death while landowners and local authorities struggle to cope with the problem.
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s plans to tackle this long-standing problem and hope the legislation will be strong and effective if the current situation is to be reversed.”
Echoing Mr Davies’ concerns over the closure of the UK’s National Equine Database, Mr Bowles said the charity was “disappointed” with the decision, and urged the Government to reinstate “a robust and thorough system of linking horses to owners”.
“This problem does not just affect Wales – we need action and a solution across England as well as Wales,” he said.
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said: “What we need is better legislation and enforcement to hold irresponsible owners to account and more support for local authorities to deal with the numbers of horses left to breed, graze, suffer and often die on other people’s land.
“If Wales takes action and the rest of the UK does not, the problem will simply move over the border. We need a joined-up approach.”
Mr Davies said he will announce plans including new legislative solutions to tackle the problem in the early autumn.
According to the charities, 7,000 horses are at risk of needing rescue in England and Wales, yet most rescue shelters are at capacity. They have worked together on a report detailing the magnitude of the issue, called Left on the verge – in the grip of a horse crisis.
To read the report, visit the RSPCA’s website.