THE ANIMAL HEALTH BILL: proposes changes to the original Animal Health Act, giving the Government unprecedented authority to seize and destroy animals in effectively any contingency. The House of Lords stalled it on the grounds that it gave Ministers draconian powers, which were entirely inappropriate and open to abuse.
The Government intends to bring the Bill back to Parliament in early October. This Bill gives the Government the right to kill ANY animal, for ANY disease, whether vaccinated against it or not. It arguably contravenes the Human Rights Act. It allows officials to force entry and it removes your right to an Appeal until after your animal has been killed.
STATUTORY INSTRUMENT 843: The Government, said to be 'incandescent' at the defeat of the Animal Health Bill in the Lords, promptly introduced Statutory Instrument 843. This is termed SI 255 in Scotland. We have lodged an application in the High Court seeking a Judicial Review into the SI, as we believe it crucially exceeds the terms of the European legislation on which it is based.
These regulations specifically mention horses and state that Inspectors may enter your premises and seize and slaughter 'any TSE susceptible animal'. A contingency plan exists, that the whole National sheep flock will be slaughtered if one sheep is found to have BSE.
These laws can be applied to ANY animal including our DOMESTIC PETS. Cats and dogs are prone to many of the diseases that affect farmed animals; and will be treated in exactly the same way for disease control purposes, including culling, if necessary.
THE NATIONAL SCRAPIE PLAN: seeks to eradicate all sheep deemed genetically susceptible to scrapie, based on the premise that nvCJD in humans is derived from BSE, which is derived from scrapie, although no links have ever been proven. What is certain is that the biological integrity of many native breeds will be destroyed in the process.
Many rare breeds will become extinct as a result of culling on the basis of genotype. This is in breach of the EU Convention on Biological Diversity, which the UK signed in 1992. Some flocks have had up to 60% of sheep culled under the plan.
HORSES: You may be aware that every horse and donkey in the country will need a passport from 31st December 2003. Some people argue that this will be better for equines from a welfare point of view, but by Defra's own admission it is not about 'control of welfare' it is about 'veterinary surveillance and disease control'.
Notifiable diseases mentioned are Rabies, Anthrax, African Horse Sickness, Vesicular Stomatitis, Dourine, Glanders, Equine Encephalomyelitis and Infectious Anaemia.
African Horse Sickness needs a 100km protection zone for 12 months round an infected site plus a 50km surveillance zone.
West Nile Disease, currently a problem in the USA, Hendra Virus and Borna Viral Disease are all transmissible diseases that could appear in this country. Any of these diseases could arrive back with a racehorse or competition horse travelling in Europe or further afield. The legislation will enable the government to know where your horse is stabled.
The recently released 'Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys'; brings equines under the umbrella of 'Farm Animal Legislation'. Horses in the UK are to be considered as 'farm animals' to bring us into step with other countries where the horse is bred as a food animal.
LICENSING OF LIVERY YARDS is planned. In some cases possibly a good thing, but many may close … where will these horses and ponies go?
ANIMAL SANCTUARIES: Plans are afoot to 'control' Sanctuaries and their work. The fear is that they will tell Sanctuaries what they can and cannot do and increase their costs and paperwork triple fold. Already fears are mounting among smaller Sanctuaries as to how they will cope with increased costs and larger amounts of paperwork.
Many small Sanctuary owners tell us of 'harassment and victimisation by the Authorities'. At least one Sanctuary has already been told that they should not have thin or sickly horses on the premises, as the public doesn't like to see them!
If you have responsibility for any animal in this Country, under the present 'culling policy' you should be aware of what is going on and be concerned as to the consequences and how they may affect your animal. Bit by bit our rights to protect our pets and livestock are being eradicated -- soon it will be too late to challenge these laws.
We believe that decisions relating to animal disease should be taken by independent professionals in the fields of veterinary science and animal management, and not by politicians.