Concerned about passports (and so should everyone be)

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May 7, 2002
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I read somewhere fairly recently that once equine passports are introduced for everyone the government is also introducing strange new powers regarding equine health.

As I understand it, in cases of certain equine illnesses (West Nile Disease and a couple of others) the government will be able to slaughter horses suspected to be infected or "susceptible", whatever that means. Owners would have the right to appeal after slaughter. Passports would make the tracing of suspect horses possible.

Does this mean that if my horse was anywhere near the outbreak of one of these diseases and therefore "susceptible" to infection that someone would be able to shoot him without me having any say in it? Or have I got this wrong? The passport system will also mean you have to present your horse's passport to a vet before treatment for anything can be prescribed.

Don't like the sound of these new powers. Does anyone have any clearer information, or any idea where I could find out more?

Thanks.
 

chev

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Yes, as far as I know. The idea is that by 2003 or something like that all horses in the UK have to have a passport. Lots of different reasons for this have been given, like preventing indiscriminate breeding, make it easier to trace the owners of neglected ponies, make tracing stolen horses easier etc. Thing is I can't see how it'll work. People who don't care for their ponies now are hardly going to pay out for a passport are they?

Can't see how it can be enforced either. Anyway my big problem at the moment are the new powers.
 

Gracie

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I don't see how either! The only people who are going to get stuck doing it are the frequent showers, or people who board at a livery(* I think thats what you call it in the uk) Anyhow, if you have your own privite farm how would they know?
It seems weird to me! IS it forsure?
 

chev

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The way people are talking it looks likely to happen; I think they're still thrashing out how it's going to work though. Like one of my ponies is registered with the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, who issue passports as standard, so I assume she's covered. Another is also registered with them, but from before passports were issued, so I'd have to pay to re-register her for a passport. But the third pony isn't registered anywhere, is of unknown breeding and origin and wasn't even born in the UK (he came from Eire). Who's going to ensure I pay for a passport for him? And why should I? He's not shown, doesn't go to events of any kind, is never really likely to.

It's the people who depend on their horses for their livelihood who will really suffer though. The extra expense and paperwork will be tremendous.

And what about those who buy cheap "no-hope" ponies at the sales to bring on and sell to good homes? Who can honestly afford to passport each one? My guess is more ponies will miss out on that chance now.
 

Laetitia

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There is a lot of angst about this from horse owners, mainly because of the expense involved.Thousands of people own horses for purely pleasure and are not competitive, and don't feel that they should be forking out for a passport for the family nag that is not going anywhere except on a hack or possibly a local gymkhana.However I think it is going to become law in the next few years.Haven't read about the shooting bit if your horse is within the vicinity of a notifiable disease.Will look it up and let you know, unless some else has the gen. L
 

Mehitabel

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as i understand it, under all the "animal welfare" huffing and puffing, the passport scheme is essentially to stop horses who've been treated with certain medication from going into the human food chain - EU regulaitons and so on. petal has her nf passport, but i won't be getting one for the old git unless someone comes up with a really good reason for me to. he sometimes goes to local shows, but he has his vaccination card for id, and he'll be buried on our land when he goes. he isn't going into the food chain, and he's never being sold.
also, chev, i don't know if it's the same for the welshies, but the nf passports have to be "upgraded" to comply, which isn't free! there's a thing about it on www.newforestpony.com
 

artemis

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Horse passports

The outline document is on the DEFRA site.

As far as I can make out the only reason for doing this is to comply with EU regs. To keep horses on medication out of the food chain. Inspired by the French who as we all know eat horses!!

Seeing as most of the other EU countries only comply with the regs when it suits them ( they all laugh at us for being so complient) I suggest we object strongly.

Do you think that the authorities have the recources to follow up every pony in every field! I think not.
 

floppy

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in germany all horses have passports. you need them to transport your horses from A to B, for compeitions, and to export them into other countries.
You can have all their vaccinatiosn and so much put inside the passport by the vet but i have a seperate book for that.
 

Lucy J

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i have just had Ciara's papers amended with her registered name (Weavers Tale) and got the change of ownership done at last too and also got her microchip details added. she is registered with the irish horse board. i did notice, however, that a new section relating to medication prescribed has been added to the papers as well as the vaccination bit.

this would confirm the food chain theory, but I wouldn't put it past defra to shoot horses without our permission if they thought it was necessary. they'd have to shoot me first though!

i do hope this is not the case.

rescue ponies might still be saved, as they won't be able to go for slaughter as meat unless they have a passport.
 

tasha

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Jul 10, 2001
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From what I have read it Your Horse, the food chain thingy is correct and there are 3 ways of getting a horse a passport.

1-With breed/type societies societies (e.g. CHAPS, etc.)

2- By the activity you compete in (e.g. BD, BSJA)

3-If your horse (like Kally) does not fit into these categories, (i.e. unknown parentage/breed and doesn't compete) then you will have to register with the BHS.

I like the idea of the passports in that you will always know what you are buying (Kally was sold to me as a TB cross and I don't know any history past 3ish yrs ago. A passport would mean I could trace previous owners and find out more about her.).

But then again, they do stand to be expensive. And who's going to trudge around the Welsh moors checking on all the ponies???
 

Nickie

Happy and Horse Mad
From NFU Countryside April 2002

Passports for Horses

In Line with EU Legislation, the Government is set on introducing compulsory registration for horses by the end of next year.


Talks are under way to decide how to implement compulsory registration for horses and ponies in England and Wales. Under EU rules, all horses, ponies and donkeys must have a passport by the end of next year. The authorities believe equine passports are vital in the fight against diseases.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael said: ‘owners and keepers of horses and ponies that are not currently registered will be required to register them with one of the appropriate approved equine organisations’. The Government says it has looked for the most cost-effective way of introducing passports and will keep bureaucracy to a minimum. It has pledged to work with horse organisations, many of which already have a register and issue passports.

‘The owners of registered horses and ponies that currently do not have passports will be required to obtain passports from the approved organisations,’ said Michael. ‘We will require that owners of horses and ponies that currently have passports be issued with a new extended passport containing details of veterinary medicines administered.’

The British Horse Society (BHS) said passports would make the identification of individual horses much easier. BHS chairman Pat Campbell added: ‘Many horse owners may well resent yet further regulation and expense, but we must look at this from a wider perspective. For the first time ever we will know exactly how many horses and ponies there are in this country. This will give us greater leverage with government, both local and central, when putting the case for horse owners.’

The BHS is a passport-issuing authority. This means owners of all horses that are not eligible to be registered with a breed society or a competitive discipline or other organisation will be able to apply to the BHS for a passport. Every animal will be given a unique number that will indicate its identity, country of registration and who issue the passport.
 

Nickie

Happy and Horse Mad
HI All

Didn't know if the article I just posted would be of interest on this subject. As many of you know I work for the NFU and currently I am one of the few of us (NFU people) that has a particular interest in horses (and obviously not on a singularly professional basis either).

I am keeping a close watch on any happenings on the horse passport scheme as well as our industry and yes, there is a lot of disquiet about the subject of passports - most commonly about the extention of slaughtering rights, which is only one area that the passport scheme may reach to, I will just point out that I do not know all the details but I will endeavour to answer any questions that people cannot get answered.

Just some misc. information for you which you may find interesting:

Only 4% of the population participate in horse related activities, this is around 2.4 million people (and 56% of people who ride - ride for purely for pleasure)

UK has around 960 thousand horses.

The horse industry is the second biggest rural employer with its imput to the national economy is around £2.5 BILLION per YEAR

Equestrian professionals spent around £200 million on their horses in 1999. (this is made up of direct expenses - like feed, bedding, farriery, etc, and the employees that they have to look after their animals.) In addition to that; Riding schools, livery yards, Breeders, and trainers spend a further £200 million

We are a huge industry (a third the size of farming). We are also HIGHLY UNDER-REPRESENTED!! I have been researching the Equestrian Industry for months. All that is available is one survey done by the British Equestrian Trade Associateion (BETA) in 1999. They want to update this survey however they are self funded and the £100K to re-run the survey is rather illuding them at the moment.

Horses are not registered, Livery Yards do not have to be registered etc etc which again makes our industry an 'unknown quantity' to many 'official bodies'.

If no-one knows what is going on inside our industry, how do we expect them to be able to know what effect their wonderful schemes will have?

We all need to Speak up. None of us ' non-horse businesses' know where to start when we need to know about an industry other than our own. (I have an advantage as I have an interest in horses and have shared a welshie for over a year now). If I didn't have the advantage of my interest, I wouldn't have a clue where to start getting info from or who to hand out info to.

Last point to note: only 14% of people who have dealt with BHS were satisfied with the service they got. (according to BETA 1999 survey) and BHS are a fore-runner on this passport scheme. I think somehow as BHS membership is voluntary and most people don't really appear to like them - when they hand out info on passport scheme, it will be to their members - a minority of the industry. If we all have to be registered however, each scheme that comes in to effect - will be notified to everyone and we will at last get a fair say.

Nicola

****Please note this is my opinion and not that of the NFU****
 
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Lgd

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The annoying thing about this for me is that both my horses have passports issued by the now defunct BHD, although Weatherby's apparently still have the database. They are both microchipped and this is recorded in their passports. One is also freeze branded. As far as I can tell no-one is going to use the vast amount of data available on the BHD so I will have the cost of more passports. Both could be reigistered on breed registers with a bit of effort for one (part TB) and a great deal of effort for the other (half Russian - but would have to be registered in Russia and would her passport be recognised here?) They have already put back the date by 12 months (was to be January 1st 2003) because they couldn't work out a good solution and what has been worked out so far will not work either. I will have to comply (reluctantly) as I have two competition horses - but it still P***es me off. Dog licenses were never workable - what makes the government think they can make this work!
 

Wally

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The sooner we can get out of the Eu the better. I'm all for a common market, but these rules are getting sillier and sillier.

Our government "Guilds" any EU reccomendation (adds bits they want) so they can blame Europe for any nast tasting bits, be careful that anything the government says isn't one of their own add ons and not directly from the EU.

Is a vet, whose job is to treat horses going to refuse to treat an abandoned horse, rescued by a charity because it has no paperowrk?
 

chev

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Hmm, I'd hope that vets would treat any horse needing it, but I do wonder...

Anyway, this letter was published in our local paper on 12th September. Make of it what you will.

"Do you own a goat, sheep or horse?

If you do then you need to be aware of new legislation that is being brought into force.

At an alarming rate over the last year, laws have been steadily laid.

Under a recently passed Statutory Instrument the Government has the power to kill any TSE susceptible animal - they have taken powers beyond what Europe have allowed them.All animals are TSE susceptible.You have no right of appeal until after your animal is killed. They have actually made a point of mentioning equines in this legislation.

When Parliament returns in October they will attempt to push through the Animal Health Bill.

From December 31st, 2003, every horse, pony and donkey in the country will need to have a passport. The reason given by DEFRA for this is 'disease control and veterinary surveillance'. Remember that West Nile Disease is rife in America at the moment and investigations are underway into providing a link between this and Borna Viral Disease in human health - when we have a reason for killing, the laws are in place and the whereabouts of every equine in the country is recorded.

Sounds far out?

Ask yourself why they are giving themselves these powers if they do not intend to use them."

This letter came from the Animal Legislation Information Group in Hornchurch, Essex. I've no idea how accurate this information is, although there is a contact name so I've written for more info. Any idea Nickie? Your last article was pretty interesting. I can see the benefits as you list them, but I can also see an infinite number of things I'm really unhappy about.
 

Nickie

Happy and Horse Mad
HI Chev

The passport scheme is a good thing - on its own. But the addition of the Aninal Health Bill is understandably clouding the issue and worrying a lot of horse owners. (Just to state these are 2 separate issues.)

Have a look at this link (on the DEFRA website)

Animal Health Bill - details from DEFRA

there is also a link on there to a copy of the Animal Health Bill (as a .PDF file) (If you need a .pdf file reader let me know and I'll send you the web address to download one from.)

Just found this: (see the link - Annex A)

Scope for exempting pets, animals in sanctuaries and rare breeds

15. The FMD slaughter measures apply only to those animals that are susceptible to FMD. Animals like dogs, cats and horses are not included in these powers and there is no reason why they should be. While the Bill does provide, should the need arise, for the powers it contains to be extended to other serious animal diseases (such as highly pathogenic avian influenza), this could only be done with the approval of both Houses of Parliament.


16. The current slaughter provisions in the Animal Health Act 1981 make no distinction between FMD-susceptible animals kept as pets and those kept for any other reason. The same is true of the new slaughter provisions under the Animal Health Bill. The Government thus cannot give a blanket exemption to any category of susceptible animal, as there may be occasions where these animals need to be culled in order to control the spread of disease. Nevertheless, we recognise that there are particular factors that can reduce the level of risk that some groups of animals pose to the spread of disease. This may include the nature of their housing, husbandry, deliveries to the premises and any direct or indirect contact with other susceptible species. The genetic merit of rare breeds may also be taken into account when exercising the new slaughter powers.


17. In this way, the Bill does not alter the current position on exemptions from slaughter, which is that there is specific provision in veterinary instructions for proportionate exceptions to be made at local level in the light of local veterinary judgement. This will be made clear when revised veterinary instructions are issued on the exercise of the new slaughter powers. As the general criteria set out in Annex A to this paper make clear, the Government is committed to open and proportionate use of the powers. These and other criteria governing slaughter will apply to pets, rare breeds and animal sanctuaries, just as they apply to other relevant categories of animal.

Here is the link to the document it came from dated 11-Jan-02 - there is also a lot of other info on there about powers to cull and when etc:

DEFRA Consultation Paper

I will see what else I can find. Hope this helps clarify what the extentions are meantime. (Even if they aren't good)

Nicola :(
 

chev

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Cheers Nickie. Part of my problem is that the whole thing is confusing anyway without the added worry of finding stuff like that.

I mean what exactly is TSE?
 

Lgd

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TSE stands for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy.
BSE is one of these, scrapie in sheep will also come into this category, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans.
 

Nickie

Happy and Horse Mad
Ok - well I've spoken to some of the powers that be and they've spoken to their peoples etc!

I have all the paperwork on the Animal health act 1981 and the ammendment bill 2001 in front of me now - I'm going up to talk to one of our legal legals in five minutes so as soon as I have spoken to him I will write a summary of the details!!

Rest assured I will try and answer all your questions

Nicola
 
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