Do you agree that there should be no distinction between registered and unregistered horses in future legislation on welfare during transport? Please provide any further relevant information.
It is the view of the Scottish Government that, in principle, all horses should be afforded the same minimum level of protection regardless of the horse’s classification and purpose of the journey. The reasons for classifying horses as registered or unregistered is related to registered horses voluntarily being subject to high animal health standards.
We note that the same incentives might not apply in relation to lower value registered horses and this is a risk to welfare that FAWC has highlighted. We recognise that statutory regulation should be applied in a proportionate and risk-based way, taking into account the owners and transporters involved, and their ability to provide for welfare needs during transport.
We agree that we should consider applying animal welfare in transport regulations to all horses alike, both registered and unregistered.
Of the 321 responses to this question, 72.9% were in favour of registered and unregistered horses receiving equal treatment in future welfare in transport legislation. 7.5% were not in favour and 19.6% did not express a view.
A high number of respondents replied in agreement with the view that “any animal being transported should be done so in the highest animal welfare standards regardless of species” and that such standards should apply “regardless of commercial value” (Scottish SPCA). Some also considered that unregistered horses are currently likely to “be subject to lower quality transportation” (Scottish Animal Health & Welfare Panel).
While a large majority accepted the Scottish Government’s proposals with regard to horses, respondents provided additional comments on areas they felt merit further consideration:
- The possible exemption of “certain owners and hauliers dependant on their ‘ability to provide for welfare needs’” could undermine these standards and hinder enforcement. (Humane Society International UK);
- “Relatively little quality work on travel to slaughter” exists and that might be a useful avenue for information gathering (Scotland’s Rural College);
- A hidden, but less immediate, concern is the “transportation of leisure horses from where they have been bred to their destination for sale” (Scottish Animal Welfare Commission);
- “A category of ‘high health’ equines” could be created to allow them to be moved more easily if evidence of compliance with requirements could be shown (unnamed organisation);
- A question was posed on whether the use of the term “horses” in the question was intended to cover all equine species (unnamed organisation).