SCOTLAND became the first country in the UK to introduce compulsory licensing for animal rescue centers as a ‘positive step’ for welfare – but challenges have been identified in ensuring the proper training of animal welfare workers. inspectors.
The regulation, which came into force on September 1, requires rescue centers and sanctuaries with five or more equines to request authorization from their local authority in order to be able to operate.
SSPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said H&H Previously, anyone could set up a rescue center, but the new requirements will align sanctuaries with other welfare laws to ensure animals are cared for by people with the necessary knowledge and facilities. Mr Flynn said that while the regulations were mainly introduced because of problems with dog rescues, there have been “a few unfortunate cases” over the years involving horse sanctuaries that have resulted in lawsuits.
“These regulations must put an end to some of the horror cases seen in the past where a shrine fell through the net because there was no [licence] requirements, ”he said.
“A lot of times these are people who start with the best of intentions and welcome a horse here and there, but by the time the SSPCA or any other agency gets involved, some have become animal breeders and are not relocating them. When one of these shrines goes awry, it tends to be a major problem. If a local authority is watching them and not allowing them to review their numbers, that should make a big difference. It’s not about bankrupting a rescue or sanctuary – it’s about getting everyone to a decent standard.
Local authorities will enforce licenses and may appoint staff from local authorities to inspect premises as part of the application process. Veterinarians or the SSPCA may also be appointed to perform inspections, but this is not a legislative requirement.
In the World Horse Welfare Scottish Equine manifesto released this month (news, 23 September), the association urged the Scottish government to commit to providing appropriate training and resources to enforcement agencies to ensure success licenses.
“The new legislation is a positive step in ensuring quality care for equines in sanctuaries and reassuring the public who support these establishments that well-being comes first,” said Roly Owers, Managing Director of World Horse Welfare. “While we recognize that the main driver of this legislation is the dog trade, it has real potential to make positive improvements in equine welfare. This will require species-specific advice and capacity building for those appointed to inspect these establishments.
“There is a clear need for these inspectors to have prior experience in horse rehabilitation or welfare cases because, by their very nature, the horses that these sanctuaries deal with often have complex needs and will be at different stages of the process. rehabilitation process. Inspectors will face a real challenge in determining whether there is a welfare issue during the inspection, and we are concerned that this will lead to neglecting cases of poor welfare or, conversely, to inspectors who confuse early rehabilitation with poor welfare standards and downward closing of establishments. “
Mr Owers added that the charity was delighted to support this legislation and added that the equine welfare sector will continue to engage with the Scottish government to ensure that any ‘hardships’ that may arise can be resolved.
“It will also help inform our campaigns in the rest of the UK as we urge their governments to introduce similar legislation.”
A Scottish government spokesperson said H&H the Scottish government takes animal welfare ‘very seriously’.
“These important new measures aim to ensure that they further protect the welfare of animals and guarantee them the best possible quality of life,” he said.
“We encourage operators of animal sanctuaries and those who engage in animal relocation to familiarize themselves with the changes in the law and, where applicable, to ensure that they apply for and obtain the corresponding permit. . “
In October 2020, a voluntary code of practice was launched by the Welsh government, drafted by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales, calling on animal welfare institutions to agree to provide ‘exemplary standards’ of care and encourage highest breeding standards (news, October 15, 2020). A two-year window has been set to evaluate the work of the code, before regulations are created. At the time the RSPCA declared H&H the charity was working with the British government on guidelines for rescues in England.
You might also be interested in:
H&H speaks with charities established for the welfare of equines to find out how this recent court case demonstrates the need for a license
Horse & Hound magazine, published every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and coverage, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet tips and training. Find out how you can profit the magazine delivered at your doorstep every week, as well as options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service which brings you the latest news and reports as well as other benefits.