News and views 

WPCS Welfare Network

To date the WPCS Welfare Network has dealt with 7 welfare complaints, varying in complexity and sensitivity, ranging from rehoming and euthanasia referrals to complaints about animal transport and animals passing for sale at auction. However, by far the most common complaints have been about animals:

- Neglected due to laziness, lack of time and interest where they have been left without adequate food and water resulting in poor condition, weakness and susceptible to illness and injury.

- Starvation due to poor, sick, overgrazed land not providing sufficient keep for the quantity of animals turned out on it.

- Ponies kept closed up in a stable without, food, water, light and clean bedding;

- Excessive quantities of animals on poor land.

- Seriously injured/sick from being trapped in fencing or complicated foalings that have not been monitored and as a result required euthanasia.

- Injured/sick animals not treated when it is obvious they should have been.

These are all breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 206 and the WPCS Welfare codes.

In the majority of these cases the welfare concerns could and should have been reported to the Society earlier. This would have allowed early intervention and may have prevented animals in one case from suffering and being put to sleep.

In some cases members have been uncooperative. This has meant the threat of enforcement by referral to the RSPCA/DEFRA in order to secure cooperation and set action plans for the animal’s improvement. RWOs have worked successfully hand in hand with RSPCA officers on specific cases. The WPCS has taken the lead on one case involving the RSPCA and the RWO was praised for her professionalism. I am pleased to say that in almost all the cases advice, cooperation and monitoring by the RWOs has brought about improvement in all the animals and the surroundings in which they are being kept. Two investigations are still on going and monitoring for improvement continues on one case in partnership with the RSPCA who are the lead investigators. Cautions and Animal Welfare Act warnings have already been issued involving WPCS members and concerns  for in excess of 40 animals.

The transfer of ownership has been a hindrance at times when trying to identify the animals, many of which have been sold on but not officially transferred. There are clear rules and time limits issued by DEFRA and WPCS about the transfer of ownership. Owners have a legal requirement to do this within 30 days.

Social Media whilst informative and useful in preventing welfare breaches can and has already created problems. In one case, social media publications could and may have alerted people under investigation to hide and move animals that were at risk, preventing them from being located and protected. It must be borne in mind that in proceedings at Court, a Judge may in the interests of fairness withhold from a Jury, evidence such as photos or information that could be vital to a prosecution case, if it can be shown to unfairly influence a Jury’s decision by virtue of the fact that they may have previously seen publications in the press or on social media. Many assume nothing is being done when in fact it is and a simple call to the Society office would confirm this or alert us to this welfare concern of which we were unaware.

If you want to report any welfare concern or are interested in becoming a Regional Welfare Officer please email me at welfare@wpcs.com.uk or Roo Johnstone at secretary@wpcs.com.uk, alternatively you can contact me on 07549 409432.

Thanks

Ed Gummery

Honorary National Welfare Coordinator
Welsh Pony & Cob Society

15th Jul 2015