World Horse Welfare
British Horse Society
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Left on the verge
MPs debated fly grazing on 26 November 2013 - please email DEFRA asking them to listen to horse charities, to MPs and to you and take action on fly grazing now. If you have experienced problems caused by fly grazing, please include details in your email so that Ministers will see that this problem affects people across the country.
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MPs called for action in Westminster Hall on 26 November – will you listen to them? Fly grazing is one of the most serious problems afflicting horses in England and Wales, with thousands currently on land without the permission of the landowner. The costs to landowners, the police and local authorities can be extremely high, public safety is often placed at risk and the horses themselves often suffer as they are left to fend for themselves in all weathers, on land which is not suitable for their needs. Equine charities are frequently asked to intervene, but demand for their assistance is at such a high level that their rescue centres are at full capacity – and the lack of fit-for-purpose legislation to deal with this problem often makes it impossible for decisive action to be taken. This situation is simply not sustainable – as MPs recognised when they debated this issue in Westminster Hall. The Welsh Assembly Government's Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014 has just received Royal Assent, and should help Welsh local authorities to take action to remove horses immediately, and to dispose of them after seven days (through sale, rehoming or humane euthanasia) if their owners do not claim them and prove ownership. This could be a great help in Wales – but unless England takes action as well, it is highly likely that the 2000 or more horses currently being fly grazed in Wales will simply be moved over the border into England, increasing the pressure on English local authorities and causing further suffering to the horses themselves. A solution to this problem must be found in England to avoid this happening. The tools which local authorities currently have are simply not working – they are too complex to use and present too many loopholes, especially when the owners of the horses cannot be identified. This lack of identification will also make it very difficult to use the new powers in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill – notices under the new legislation can only be given if the culprit can be identified, and currently this is rarely possible. Please give enforcement agencies the flexibility to deal with fly grazing cases now to protect horses from further suffering, and to prevent communities from being disrupted when irresponsible owners choose to fly graze and neglect the needs of their animals. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
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