The time is now for coordinated action to make improved welfare a reality for working equids across the world - that is the message of four equine charities who have come together to promote global welfare standards adopted this year by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The standards, which entitle donkeys, horses and mules to basic needs such as food, water and shelter, have been welcomed as a milestone in improving equine welfare. However, they are not the law. To help governments implement the standards, technical experts from The Donkey Sanctuary, The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), World Horse Welfare and Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys will have a joint poster displayed at the 4th OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare in Mexico. The event, which takes place 6-8 December 2016, is attended by policy makers from 180 member states around the globe.
Through the poster the four charities will promote their message of collaboration and how they can offer a wealth of expertise to help implement the standards, by assessing welfare, equipping service providers like farriers, saddlers and vets and helping develop tertiary education.
World Horse Welfare Head of International Programme Development, Karen O'Malley, said: "This is a great opportunity to work together as a sector to improve the welfare of millions of working equids. The OIE standard is a positive and important step in helping working equids to become visible to policy makers and we will continue to support national government initiatives to make this standard a reality in many countries around the world."
Karen Reed, Head of Animal Welfare Capacity at Brooke agreed. She said: “Brooke supported the OIE in developing the working equine welfare standards, and we were delighted to see them adopted. Of course, the challenge now is to implement them. We’re pleased to be working with likeminded organisations to support the OIE and their member states to make this happen. As well as working with policy makers, it’s very important to work directly with the communities that rely on horses, donkeys and mules, and empower local vets and farriers. We specialise in building capacity so that these people can become self-sufficient animal welfare advocates.”
Stephen Blakeway, Director of International Operations at The Donkey Sanctuary added: “There is no longer any excuse for donkeys, mules and horses to be invisible. Now we can all align our work to the standards and provide strong case studies showing how improved welfare benefits donkeys and people socially and economically.”
Francesca Compostella, Director of Veterinary Programmes at SPANA, said: "We're pleased to be working in partnership with other organisations to assist the OIE in implementing the working equine standards. This document represents a momentous milestone that gives international recognition to the working horses, donkeys and mules that play a fundamental role in guaranteeing the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide. With close collaboration and cooperation, we look forward to working with policy makers, equine owning communities, vets and other professionals to facilitate the successful implementation of such standards. Thanks to the OIE, we now have an invaluable tool to achieve widespread, lasting change to the welfare of working equids around the world."