Stop passing the buck! Animal Aid demands Government intervention over horse slaughter

Posted on the 22nd July 2021

Horses are being failed by breed societies, racing regulators and welfare groups, says Animal Aid. Since Panorama’s exposé on the slaughter of horses, which aired on 19 July, and featured undercover footage gathered by Animal Aid; many of those charged with looking after horse welfare appear to reject responsibility. Some are even labelling the slaughter of the horses as ‘euthanasia’.

It should come as no surprise to the racing industry that horses are sent to slaughter. A Freedom of Information request, obtained from the Food Standards Agency, stated that 347 horses registered with Weatherby’s – the passport issuing agency for the racing industry – had been sent to slaughter in England in 2019. And, in Ireland 2,161 horses with Weatherby’s passports were slaughtered in that same year.

In fact, as far back as 2007, an Animal Aid undercover investigation into horse slaughter identified horses from the racing industry being presented for slaughter.[1]

There has been much made of the fact that Panorama’s research revealed the horses from the racing industry were coming from Ireland to be slaughtered in England, thus placing the blame on the Irish racing industry. However, this fails to take account of the extremely close relationship that is enjoyed between the British and Irish racing industries.

The National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC), a collaboration of organisations whose stated aim is “to improve equine welfare, support those invested in improving equine welfare standards, and communicate best practice to NEWC members and the wider equine community” has, amongst its members, World Horse Welfare, Racehorse Owners Association, Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the British Horseracing Authority.

Animal Aid is concerned that, amongst the buck-passing and finger-pointing, none of the organisations charged with horse welfare will take action to reduce the number of foals being bred. This simple step would ultimately ensure that no horses end up at slaughter. The British Horseracing Authority is said to be in crisis talks with the (industry-populated) Horse Welfare Board – but the fact remains that horses from the racing industry are being slaughtered. This is not news to the regulators.

Says Dene Stansall: “Without Animal Aid exposing what is happening in abattoirs and making that information public, breed societies and the self-regulating organisations for racing would be perfectly happy to sit back and allow things to continue. It’s time to disband these self-interested groups and hand over all responsibility for horse welfare to a properly-independent government group.”

Notes to Editors:



[1] https://www.animalaid.org.uk/horse-slaughter-english-abattoir/ See also https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/oct/01/horseracing.sport

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