Police and fire services are looking at how they deal with emergencies involving equines following an H&H investigation.

The British Horse Society will work with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to agree a new set of national equine emergency guidelines.

Representatives from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), RSPCA and International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) will also lend their expertise.

“We already have a set of guidelines which were drawn up by the chairman of our welfare committee — which can serve as a starting point for discussions,” said BHS chief executive Graham Cory. “Both ACPO and CFOA are very willing to cooperate.”

Last month, H&H reported two incidents involving fire and police which led to prolonged suffering for a horse and a foal. In both incidents, the animals’ owners raised concerns over a lack of protocol to help officers unused to dealing with horses in distress.

ACPO has now nominated North Yorkshire Police and the CFOA South Wales Fire Service to take part in talks. Mr Cory estimates there will be a period of consultation — by this summer — on resulting recommendations, before they are rolled out across the UK.

ILPH chief field officer Paul Teesdale said he is encouraged by the news.

“With increasingly centralised police control rooms, local knowledge has been lost,” he said. “They need a list of phone numbers for hunts, slaughterhouses and vets who can get to the scene quickly.”

BEVA’s Lesley Barwise-Munro said the move was a positive step forward.

“We need the welfare of the animals to be a higher priority and for emergency services to see it’s appropriate and important to contact a vet,” she said.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 March ’06)
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