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horse Are Police Cuts Costing Lives ?

Incidences of loose horses on Britain’s roads are on the increase says a leading horse welfare charity.

Following today’s report of the shooting by police of three loose horses on the A13 in Essex, the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) is calling for a more cohesive national police policy on dealing with loose horses.

Says David Mountford, Head of Equine Operations at the ILPH, “We have seen a drastic rise in the number of calls we receive from the public reporting horses loose on the roads. Whether these animals have strayed, been abandoned, or broken their tethers, the ILPH sadly cannot take them in having neither the capacity nor the authority to do so. It is the responsibility of the police to remove them from the public highway and impound them.

“It is evidently clear from our dealings with the police that this danger to both horse and public safety is being handled differently from force to force. It is our experience, though, that most police forces try to offload their responsibilities onto animal welfare charities or local farmers, working on the premise that the animals then, by law, become the responsibility of the person whose land they are on.

“Not only do they not have a cohesive policy, but, in our experience, many officers do not seem to be aware of the law governing horses straying on the public highway.”

Ted Barnes, ILPH Field Officer for South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, who before retiring from the Metropolitan Police Service was the officer responsible for equine crime, says, “Unfortunately the system that we used in the Met which worked extremely well, was axed because of financial cutbacks.

“I am pleased to see that the current system used by the Thames Valley Police is very similar to the Met’s original initiative. Loose horses in the Thames Valley are collected and taken to ‘safe yards’ for a statutory period thus removing the potential risk to life and limb. Thereafter they are sold on.”

Says Albert Hunny MBE, Animal Welfare Officer, Thames Valley Police, “I am rather saddened that Essex Police should resort to shooting those horses.”

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