An equine charity has revealed horses and ponies are being exported without any checks on their welfare or paperwork to require their health status.

World Horse Welfare have been monitoring the port of Dover and following known horse dealers to find out their destinations as part of an investigation into horse exports.

“We have discovered this really murky trade in low value equines across Europe and it is not only a matter of equine welfare it is also a huge problem for equine health, and, as we have seen because of the relation with the food trade and the food industry it is also an issue for human health as well,” says Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, vet and active member of the Equine Sector Council.

“We know that over one 48 hour weekend there were 51 shipments exported from Dover to France and 41 imports, with these vehicles taking between 2 and 22 horses so you can get a feel of the scale. There was not a single check done by the authorities during that weekend.

“Dealers from the UK are trading at markets in France and Belgium and Holland. Everything we have found we have shared with the authorities and our evidence is now the subject of an ongoing inquiry. We will continue to support that inquiry and we will continue to carry out our field research until we are sure that there is effective enforcement in place and horses and ponies leaving this country are not suffering.”

A UK ferry company called P&O backed up the charity’s findings. P&O had become concerned about a large consignment of horses travelling in a poor state of health and with possibly the wrong documentation and so refused permission for the trader to board. The charity knows that the dealer simply used another ferry company to carry on with their journey.

Defra have stated that their have been no export applications for horses and ponies going to slaughter in the time the ports were monitored. However World Horse Welfare believe that Defra are not performing the basic checks and therefore could not know this.

Please help World Horse Welfare to ensure that the law is enforced at our ports by emailing Defra and your MP to get them to take