EQUINE PASSPORTS INTRODUCED IN GREECE

A successful campaign by an alliance of Greek animal welfare organisations has led to the Greek Government to introduce EU laws requiring individual identification of all horses, donkeys and mules – “equidae”. Known as the ‘Equine Passport Regulation’, animals covered by the EU Regulation will now need to be registered and identified with a unique number (Universal Equine Life Number). This will begin to help give stronger legal protection for all equidae and is potentially very optimistic news for the future of animal welfare in Greece.

In 2017 Ippothesis and Animal Action Hellas formed an alliance to campaign for the implementation of the European Commission Regulations (EU) 2015/262, commonly known as the Equine Passport Regulation.

A Change.Org petition of more than 12,000 citizens campaigning for stronger protection of equidae was presented to the Greek Ministers for Environment and Energy and Agricultural Development and Food in January 2018. This petition included demanding implementing the EU Equine Passport Regulations as well as the adoption of a Code of Good Practice for Equidae.

Without proper identification and registration, equidae cannot be linked to the person responsible for their welfare. Sadly, existing national legislation is inadequate with respect to ensuring equine welfare standards, therefore cases of poor welfare, abuse and neglect are often encountered.

Rosa Roussou, President of Ippothesis said, “Although the EU  directives have existed  for some time, it has  always been more convenient for the authorities not to implement them. As a result it is impossible to determine the official number of equidae living in Greece. Backyard breeding, trading without ownership certificates, online exchanges of equidae , selling new-born foals and an absolute lack of any code of good practice backed by  legislation are all part of the awful reality horses, donkeys and mules  have to face everyday. This is leading to numerous cases of neglect and abuse. The only way to finally start protecting them is via their registration and identification”.

The new registration requirements will begin to ensure all owners of equidae throughout Greece will have to care responsibly for their animals and ensure welfare standards are upheld. Failure to look after their animals properly will incur legal penalties.

Elisa Geskou, Veterinary surgeon, Equine Project Coordinator for Greek Animal Welfare Fund / Animal Action Hellas said, “As vets we have for years been working hard to improve the welfare of horses, donkeys and mules through our outreach programme, especially working animals in island communities. The introduction of the EU ‘Equine Passport’ will mean all equines should be registered and identified with a Universal Equine Life Number (UELN). Hopefully, this will help give stronger legal protection for all equidae. It is good news for animal welfare in Greece”.

Animal Welfare organisations, veterinarians, local animal welfare groups and supportive members of both the European and National Parliaments strongly welcome the introduction the European Commission Regulations (EU) 2015/262 into Greek Law.