Tuesday 25 February 2014

Live Export Of Ponies Exposé

In our latest newsletter, we have published an exposé revealing the export of Dartmoor Hill Ponies from Britain to Ireland and Europe.  It also exposes the lack of welfare in transport, a loophole in the minimum value legislation, and the failure of the authorities to police the rules and regulations designed to protect the wild ponies of Britain. The story is also being published as a press release and can be found on our website at http://www.people4ponies.co.uk/liveexports.html

There are all sorts of rules and regulations in place to protect ponies.  The Animal Health Act 1981 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/22/contents)  lists one of the most important regulations intended to protect wild ponies - the Minimum Value Legislation.  It is designed to prevent wild and low value ponies being exported for slaughter.  The law states that:

"41  Restriction on export of ponies.
(1)It is an offence against this Act to ship or attempt to ship any pony in any vessel or aircraft from any port or aerodrome in Great Britain to any port or aerodrome outside the British Islands unless—
(a)the appropriate Minister is satisfied that the pony is intended for breeding, riding or exhibition and—
(i)it is not of less value than £300, or
(ii)in the case of a pony not exceeding 122 centimetres in height other than a pony of the Shetland breed not exceeding 107 centimetres in height, it is not of less value than £220, or
(iii)in the case of such a pony of the Shetland breed, it is not of less value than £145, or
(iv)such other value in any of those cases as may be prescribed by order of the Ministers; and

(b)Immediately before shipment the pony has been individually inspected by a veterinary inspector and has been certified in writing by the inspector to be capable of being conveyed to the port or aerodrome to which it is to be shipped, and disembarked, without unnecessary suffering."

Of course, our wild ponies are not of great financial value - most don't even make a minimum bid at the markets, and those that do sell make an average of £10 each...
Jetsie - Dartmoor Hill Pony in emaciated condition rescued at a market in Ireland by Sathya Sai Sanctuary

...So how is that ponies such as Jetsie were turning up in Ireland and Europe??  Our ponies would not achieve anywhere near the minimum valuation required. Our investigations suggest that in some cases the rules and regulations have not been enforced.  If you wanted to take a wild pony to Ireland (out of a Welsh port, for instance) you would have to apply for an export license with associated proof of minimum value and provide a fitness to travel document signed by a vet, and you'd need a equine passport.

 If you wanted to legally take a Hill Pony to Europe out of a Southern UK Port you'd need an export license, minimum value certificate, a health certificate signed by a vet, a journey log, and of course an equine passport.

BUT...There is also a loophole in the Minimum Value Legislation which has been exploited as a way to export wild ponies out of the UK.  By travelling wild ponies straight out of a northern port to Northern Ireland, you can legally export the low value ponies (which would have been denied export licenses from a Welsh port) to Southern Ireland with no minimum value paperwork, export licenses or health paperwork at all.  Even though Northern Ireland is part of the UK it does not have Minimum Value Legislation. Of course, transport regulations and equine identification rules do still apply.  From here the ponies could even be transported onto France - as Northern and Southern Ireland allow free movement under the Tripartite Agreement.

The interesting thing is that when we have spoken to the authorities in the UK, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland and pointed out that the Tripartite Agreement doesn't apply to horses going for slaughter, so what documentation is required to transport those equines...the response from all 3 individual countries has been that no horses have been exported for slaughter because none of the health certificates have been applied for!  The Tripartite agreement was originally set up to allow the free movement of racehorses and competition horses.

The Equine Identification Regulations apply to the transport of ponies and The Welfare Of Animals In Transport Order puts all sorts of rules in place to protect horses and ponies being travelled as part of economic activity (not as pets with their owner).  There's also Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 - on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.  This Defra guide is quite useful at explaining the rules:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69376/pb12544c-horses-080711.pdf   Examples of the rules include:
· All horses must be fit for the intended journey (i.e. not showing signs of disease and able to travel without being caused unnecessary pain or distress),
· Unbroken horses and ponies most not be transported in groups of more than four animals,
· Unbroken horses and ponies must not be transported on long journeys (more than 8 hours),
· All transporters carrying horses as part of an economic activity must be authorised,
· Drivers and attendants must hold certificates of competence
· Vehicles must be approved if journey length is 8 hours or more,
· Horses and ponies must be accompanied by a passport, and microchip if born or identified for the first time on or after 1 July 2009.
· Unregistered horses have a 24 hour journey limit (from time of loading onto a means of transport) after which a 24 hour rest must be taken before the journey may continue.
· Unregistered horses must be offered water and "if necessary" fed at least every 8 hours,

Let's hope that our exposé will help to ensure an end to the live exports of wild ponies from Britain...Take a look at our webpage to read the full story:

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Unknown said...

Will you be monitoring the drifts & sales this year?

people4ponies.co.uk said...

Hello...yes, we will be going to all the wild pony markets. We don't go to all the drifts. They are not publically notified and they happen at different times on different areas of moorland.