‘Health and welfare inextricably linked’ - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

‘Health and welfare inextricably linked’

SARAH BEARDALL reports on BEVA’s annual horse industry meeting

THE British Equine Veterinary
Association recently hosted its
annual horse industry meeting,
attended by key representatives
from the equine industry including
welfare charities, government,
professional associations, grant
awarding bodies and the media.

The first item to be discussed was
the new Responsibility and Cost
Sharing initiative. DEFRA is planning
to launch a new independent body to
deal with animal
health, whilst leaving
animal welfare under
ministerial control.

In BEVA’s
opinion, health and
welfare are
inextricably linked and
cannot be separated.
However, BEVA
supports the aims of
reducing the incidence
and impact of animal
diseases, and
acknowledges the need
to avoid undue expense on the
taxpayer.

Significant concerns were raised at
the meeting by Professor Bill Reilly,
president of the BVA, and by Keith
Meldrum, former CVO and current
consultant to World Horse Welfare,
who considered the separation of
health and welfare to be unworkable.

DEFRA’s proposals still contain
little detail at this point, but Chris
House, BEVA president, pointed out
that the levy in question may be many
times higher than the £10.50 currently
suggested. Additionally, it may increase
each year, causing a huge burden for
sanctuaries and rescue centres.

Pat Campbell, from the BHS,
added that this would also significantly
impact hill farm breeders. The public were advised to visit
www.rethinkthehorsetax.org. BEVA
will continue to strive politically for an
optimal outcome not only for horse
owners, but also for the welfare of the
horse itself.

On 1st July, the new regulations
concerning Horse Passports were
introduced. Furthermore, Di Harvey
of Weatherbys commented that
DEFRA is planning to standardise the passport itself so that
its format mirrors the
Commission Annex as
closely as possible, as
there are several
different types in use
at the present time.
Weatherbys has
revised its passport
format in light of this.

Keith Meldrum
reiterated that it is
imperative that people
fully understand the
implications when
signing Section IX of the passport, and
horse owners must understand that once a horse is signed out of the food
chain, it can never go back in.

The decision is irreversible, and
may potentially affect the sale of that
horse and, ultimately, will definitely
affect the disposal options available for
it. Owners were also reminded that
they have only 30 days to notify the
Passport Issuing Organisation of a
change in ownership.

There is great concern over the
illegal importation of semen into this
country. Its use could potentially cause
an outbreak of CEM or EVA, which
could affect the entire horse industry.
Madeleine Campbell, president-elect of
BEVA, stressed the seriousness of the
situation, and stated that Animal
Health would put information on its website for anyone to report cases of
illegal importation of semen, and also
a procedure for vets to follow, should
the semen they are using not be
accompanied by the correct
documentation.

Paraprofessionals

The horse industry is keen to regulate
equine “paraprofessionals”, such as
equine dental technicians and barefoot
trimmers. Progress continues to be
made in establishing guidelines for
training, qualification and regulations,
so that the horse-owning public can
be reassured that these
paraprofessionals have the requisite
knowledge and skills.

A similar course of action is being
undertaken for physiotherapists, and
this would include equine
physiotherapists, osteopaths and
chiropractors.

Madeleine Campbell echoed the
group’s concerns that, although there
is legislation to help protect the
welfare of horses undergoing long
distance transportation, a campaign by
World Horse Welfare had found a
significant lack of enforcement of this
legislation. She asked that people write
to their MEPs to ask them to sign a declaration so this can be rectified.
In a discussion of the Code of

Practice for Welfare of Equines,
inspection and licensing of livery
yards was seen as very important, and
should be encouraged, especially with
DIY livery yards, some of which have
less than optimal standards of animal
welfare. A group of volunteers from
key welfare, equine and veterinary
associations, the Livery Yard
Inspection Working Party, is working
hard to enable secondary legislation to
assist in this matter.

Paul Jepson, who sits on the cross-
industry working group for Exotic
Disease Surveillance and Contingency
Planning for African Horse Sickness,
updated the meeting with its latest
news.

This group is completing the final
drafts of the Regulation and Control
Strategy documents which go to
public consultation imminently, and
these suggest that compensation may
be paid if a horse is compulsorily
slaughtered but not infected, up to a
limit of perhaps £2,500 (yet to be
finalised). Horses that are infected will
not be compensated for. Disposal
costs will be paid for slaughtered
horses.

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