A welfare charity is hoping to lessen the burden on its finances by encouraging breeders and owners to microchip their pones.

The Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies (SWHP) launched a campaign at the start of this month to tighten the implementation of microchipping laws.

Although it has been a legal requirement for all foals born after July 2009 to be microchipped — and for every horse to hold an equine passport — many owners are failing to comply with these laws.

As a result, the Monmouthshire-based charity has been faced with the task of caring for large numbers of neglected and abandoned equines, whose owners cannot be formally identified. So the SWHP is calling on the Welsh government for help. A petition has been set up which already has more than 100 signatures.

“It’s been a particularly bad winter because of the financial climate, the severe weather and hay shortages,” says Sian Lloyd, a trustee of the charity. “We’ve found 70 horses abandoned in a field and groups of ponies running down the motorway, whose owners cannot be prosecuted.

“It’s a legal requirement to have a passport and for foals to be microchipped, but this doesn’t seem to be implemented.”

Monmouthshire Assembly member Nick Ramsay is supporting the campaign and bringing to justice those that flout the microchipping rules.

“I hadn’t realised the scale of the problem with the less scrupulous owners getting away with it without being prosecuted,” he said. “It leaves places like SWHP caring for these neglected animals and footing the bill.”

The petition runs until the end of September. Visit: www.swhp.co.uk/petition-june-2011