Veterinarians are being urged to add their names to an open letter to the European Union Commission seeking to end the suffering of horses on long-haul trips to slaughter.
The letter asks the commission to heed the scientific evidence that shows horses suffer on long hauls to slaughter, and on similarly long journeys for fattening and sale.
It wants European authorities to introduce a shorter, maximum journey limit.
Veterinary nurses and student vets are also being encouraged to add their name to the letter available here.
World Horse Welfare and its veterinary advisers have produced the letter as part of their campaign against the long distance transportation of 65,000 horses across Europe to slaughter.
The open letter will be presented to the new EU Health Commissioner, once one has been appointed, and asks the commissioner to propose an amendment to the EU transport rules in light of scientific evidence collected by the charity and the recommendations of the European Commission’s own scientific advisors, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The equine charity has long collected its own evidence of horse suffering on these journeys and cites other independent scientific research, as well as the recommendations of the EFSA, which assessed the available research and recommended a short, maximum journey limit of no more than 12 hours for these journeys.
This evidence, which in 2011 was handed to the Commission, shows that current journey times and transportation practices cause harm to horses and pose an EU-wide disease threat, clearly underpinning the case for amending the current regulations.
“Despite recognising that severe welfare problems persist and being presented with clear evidence showing how these horses are suffering, changes to legislation have not been proposed by the Commission,” World Horse Welfare chief executive and veterinarian Roly Owers said.
“I therefore urge my veterinary colleagues to sign the letter requesting that the commission make good on its commitment to policies informed by scientific evidence and introduce a short, maximum journey limit.”
Supporters who are not veterinary surgeons, students or veterinary nurses, can help by emailing vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, who has been appointed as a caretaker for this area pending the appointment of a new commissioner.