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Horse & Hound and the British Horse Society (BHS) have joined forces to help improve the way police and fire services deal with emergencies involving horses.

While the vast majority of correspondence received by H&H praises the way the emergency services deal with equine incidents — two recent examples investigated by H&H have highlighted a lack of nationalised guidelines.

“We don’t for one minute question the professionalism and integrity of the police and fire services, but we want to help them put protocols or guidelines in place to achieve the right balance between the safety of officers and the public and the welfare of the injured animal,” said BHS chief executive Graham Cory.

In one case, the South Wales Fire Service adhered too strictly to guidelines and a horse was eventually destroyed because of its delayed rescue from a cattle grid. In the other, Northumbria Police called a marksman, rather than a vet or hunt, to destroy a badly injured foal. Owners argue the marksman took too long to reach the scene, which caused the foal unnecessary suffering.

As a result, the BHS is aiming to set up a working group with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) — with possible assistance from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) and the RSPCA.

Mr Cory continued: “We’re aiming to talk to the police and fire services nationally — or work with a local service to roll it out. We have already had very positive discussions with the Warwickshire Fire Brigade.

“We found working with the County Surveyors Society on SMA road surfaces, and with the RAF on low flying aircraft, extremely beneficial, and both groups were glad of our help.”

  • Read this story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (2 February, ’06)

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