Today Eyes on Animals had a meeting with the Dutch government authorities, NVWA, to talk about our inspections and the enforcement of animal welfare laws on horse markets in the Netherlands. We spoke with the team leader NVWA Animal Welfare, Haddon Voortman, and the team leader NVWA Transport, Jan Koers. We exchanged experiences about the horse markets so far this year – in Elst, Zuidlaren, Roden and Bemmel – and looked ahead to the horse market in Hedel 3 November.
We explained that it would be helpful for us to know ahead of time exactly who from the NVWA-teams are available on the market, so that when we see abuse take place or come across neglected or too young horses, we can immediately call in a competent official. Previously at several markets, especially during night time, it has occurred that Eyes on Animals inspectors saw injured or sick horses but we failed to reach NVWA-animal welfare teams.
We also discussed the (difficult) enforcement of the ban on docking horse tails – this is difficult because of differences in European legislation, such as the fact that it is not illegal to have the tails of Dutch horses docked in France. The NVWA and Eyes on Animals agree with each other that the horse market organizations play an important role to discourage the unwanted practice of tail docking by refusing them entrance at their markets. This is also prescribed in the Protocol Horse Welfare at Markets which the market organizations have signed. Fortunately, for the first time this year, the horse market organization of the town Zuidlaren held checks at the market entrances to keep owners of horses with docked tails from entering. This is a very positive step, putting rules into practice! The organizers of the Hedel market have already confirmed to Eyes on Animals that they will do the same next week.
Eyes on Animals also brought up the subject that during (very) rainy weather, we still see too many donkeys on the markets who have no shelter and have no rain blanket. The coat of a donkey cannot withstand the rain and according to Dutch law donkeys must be offered protection against rain. The NVWA and Eyes on Animals have agreed that legal action needs to be taken if this legislation is ignored. We both see that the horse market organizations have an important role to play in educating owners and traders that it is necessary and obligatory to at least provide donkeys with waterproof blankets if it rains during the market.