European Parliament adopts Resolution to improve equine welfare

FOUR PAWS congratulates Julie GIRLING, MEP, on approval of the initiative report on the responsible ownership and care of equines.


The International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS congratulates Julie Girling, MEP, on today’s adoption of the Resolution by the European Parliament in favour of the Initiative report on responsible ownership and care of equines aiming at enforcing legislative measures to ensure equine husbandry and welfare throughout Europe. The report includes the recommendations laid out in the study published by World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals, ‘Removing the Blinkers: the Health and Welfare of European Equidae in 2015’, which outlines the scope, scale and welfare challenges of the equine sector in Europe.

Ms Girling's report pushes in particular for the promotion of responsible breeding and guidance on the management of the equine populations by controlling the natality rate.

"At FOUR PAWS, we believe that controlling reproduction is essential for managing the populations of domestic and wild horses. It is an essential part of the duties of a responsible horse owner as it prevents unintended foaling, which very often leads to equine overpopulation and lowers the value of the animals, with unavoidable problems of care and welfare."

Pierre Sultana, Director of the FOUR PAWS European Policy Office in Brussels 

For years now, FOUR PAWS has proven the benefits of birth control programmes for the feral horse populations of the Romanian Danube Delta. Pierre Sultana added: “FOUR PAWS is happy to see that the report recognises the importance of native species of equidae living in the wild”.

Mr Sultana regretted, however, that “some stakeholders have been pushing amendments in the report to facilitate the slaughter of equines that initially were not considered as part of the food chain and justify it as a way to control populations, rather than looking at the real cause of the equine overpopulation. This will never solve the problem. On the contrary, this might encourage abandonment, indiscriminate and irresponsible breeding and cause a lot of animal suffering.”

The report points to the creation of a European Charter for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism portraying clearer indicators for Member States regarding the welfare and use of working equines. This is in line with FOUR PAWS projects regarding horses used for tourism, such as the one developed in Petra, Jordan.

The Resolution as adopted can be read here:

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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