Working equids in the EU need recognition and adequate protection
Working equids are important assets that contribute to the livelihoods of many communities all over the EU. The report details how these equids are used in many sectors. For instance, they are used in agriculture, forestry and environmental management as they can work on difficult terrains otherwise inaccessible by mechanical vehicles, do not damage crops or land, and allow minimum disturbance in important conservation areas. Working equids are also present in the urban landscape where they support waste management activities, among other things, and in the tourism industry as a popular attraction.
Working equids are therefore everywhere, yet they are invisible and not sufficiently protected by the EU legal framework. The report lists some areas of concerns where the welfare of working equids can be jeopardised and need to be better protected. For instance, it is essential to introduce clear provisions on working hours, environmental conditions, feeding and the training of handlers. These standards must also be properly enforced. The EU can build on future opportunities, including the upcoming animal welfare legislation, to introduce such standards and improve the welfare of all equines, including working equids.
In addition, the role of working equids contribute to the EU sustainability agenda and the ambitions of the Green Deal that should be recognised and appropriately valued in the CAP plans, the EU cohesion policy and other relevant initiatives.
The report was presented by Dr. Joe Collins from The Donkey Sanctuary at a session of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals of the European Parliament on 15 December. MEPs supported the recognition of these equids, mentioning the need to protect their welfare and allow them to retire in good conditions at the end of their career.For more information on recommendations for the welfare of equines used in tourism, you can also read the newly published Guidance for competent authorities and tourism operators to ensure the welfare of working equids in tourism developed by the Voluntary initiative on responsible ownership and care of equidae.