European Parliament wants tougher penalties for mistreatment of horses

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People who mistreat or abandon horses should face tougher penalties, says a non-legislative resolution Parliament approved last Tuesday.

MEPs also called for measures to educate owners better on animal husbandry, improve food safety and help the sector increase its revenues.

“Throughout European history the bond between equidae and humankind has occupied a very unique position within our societies. Equidae have and still do play a vital role in many EU Member States,” said rapporteur Julie Girling (ECR, UK) before the vote.

“However, despite the varied roles, close relationship and at times dependency we share with these animals, in too many cases equidae are faced with a number of severe welfare concerns that serve to adversely impact the entire sector. Such concerns include neglect, overwork and inappropriate living conditions,” Girling said.

“Europe’s citizens want to see more action on animal welfare. With this report I believe that we have a golden opportunity to not only substantially improve the lives of the seven million equidae currently living within the EU, but also by better caring for these animals we have a chance to unlock the full economic potential of this sector and provide a much-needed boost to the rural economy. It is a win-win for all involved”, Girling added.

Parliament approved the non-legislative resolution by 656 votes in favour to 10 against, with 27 abstentions.

Better education for equid professionals and fight against mistreatments

Equid owners, especially private individuals, should have a minimum knowledge of equid husbandry to ensure good health and welfare of animals in their care, say MEPs as they call for more intensive exchange of good and practices and innovative approaches throughout the continent.

Even though most equid owners and handlers behave responsibly, some don’t and member states should apply stricter legislation to fight mistreatments and impose extraordinary measures to combat abandonments, says the resolution.

Fixing welfare problems, cutting transport times and combating fraud

MEPs call on the Commission to promote more the education on farm welfare and to develop Animal Welfare Indicators to assess the welfare of equidae, identify existing problems and fix them. They also want the EU’s executive to draft, with help from specialists and on the basis of existing guides, a European Guide on Good Practice in the Equid Sector for breeders, equid societies, farms, stables, sanctuaries, transporters and slaughterhouses and ensure its equal implementation across the EU.