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An owner whose horse was incinerated by police who did not look first for his microchip is petitioning for change.

Jemma Wellington wants new legislation to require authorities to scan all unidentified horses for microchips. Her 3-year-old Lilfonz was hit by a car on the A331 near Tongham, on 5 February after his field’s fencing was vandalised.

Surrey Police arranged for his disposal without attempting to scan his microchip. Jemma found her horse was missing and reported him as stolen.

On 7 February, her vet discovered that a horse involved in an accident on the A331 had been incinerated at a local slaughterhouse, but it was not until 13 February that the police confirmed through photos that it was Lilfonz.

“All my heartache could have been avoided if a simple microchip scan had been done either by the police or the slaughterhouse,” said Ms Wellington, who paid around £100 for Lilfonz’s microchip and passport.

“Microchipping is a legal requirement, but it’s a false security net,” she added.

Surrey Police told H&H that its “priority was to clear the road and ensure there was no ongoing risk to motorists”.

“A microchip scanner is available to patrol team officers,” a spokesman added. “But it was decided that, due to the nature of the injuries, the use of this equipment would not have been of benefit.”

Kevin Spurgeon from the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria said it “is lunacy that there is no statute that horses, who have to be microchipped by law, are not scanned and identified either immediately or before their ultimate disposal to bring peace of mind to owners”.

Tony Tyler of World Horse Welfare told H&H the horse identification system “needs a complete overhaul”.

“Regulations are only useful if there is effective enforcement behind them,” he said.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (27 February 2014)