Rehoming is up – but ‘perfect storm’ to come for equine welfare *H&H Plus*

  • H&H speaks to leading equine welfare charities about the challenges of 2020 — and what they believe may be to come for the sector in the months and years ahead

    REHOMING figures were up in 2020 – but welfare charities fear the financial consequences of the pandemic could create a “perfect storm”, and more welfare cases.

    Charities reported an “unusual” year, but say there were positives such as the Government plans to ban live export for slaughter (news, 10 December) and new microchipping laws (news, 6 August).

    Seven welfare charities united to produce a report, Britain’s Horse Problem, and recommendations on how to fix it.

    But World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers told H&H despite the challenges, the charity has a “spring in its step” and rehomed a record 340 equines this year.

    “To date, 257 equines have come into our care this year, including several multi-agency rescues,” he said. “But we are steeling ourselves for a surge in welfare cases as we head into winter and the true grip of economic fallout of the pandemic.”

    RSPCA equine welfare expert Mark Kennedy told H&H the charity did not see a “significant increase” in welfare cases this year, and rehoming figures exceeded 2019, but the charity is “very worried” about the future.

    “We anticipate a perfect storm where many more horses fall into neglect and suffering at the same time as our own and partners’ resources are ever more stretched,” he said.

    “A joint National Equine Welfare Council and Association of Dogs and Cats Homes survey of members and other animal rescue organisations, in May, found more than half those surveyed reported a drop of more than 50% in their income, with equine organisations reporting the greatest decrease and most pessimistic about their long-term financial survival.”

    Redwings CEO Lynn Cutress told H&H that owing to a loss of income during the pandemic and no Government support for animal charities, Redwings will be operating at a deficit for months, or potentially years.

    “However, our commitment to be there for the horses in the most desperate need hasn’t wavered. We’ve taken in nearly 180 horses and donkeys this year, including from other sanctuaries struggling financially. This is one of our largest intakes in recent years, and with the threat of recession, there’s real concern that demand for help from equine welfare charities will continue to rise,” she said.

    “The new microchipping law was another important step in supporting better horse welfare in this country. We look forward to working with fellow welfare organisations to continue to raise awareness and push for change.”

    Bransby Horses’ welfare team responded to more than 200 welfare concerns this year.

    “Looking ahead to 2021 we will be concentrating on increasing rehoming figures and the number of horses impacted through our external welfare work, continuing to build on collaborative relationships with other charities,” said a spokesman.

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