Improving the welfare of horses is one of the aims Eyes on Animals has focused on over the past few years. We helped with a large-scale investigation into the transport and slaughter of horses in North, Central and South America and exposed the footage on Dutch television and newspapers. We also regularly inspect horse markets held in The Netherlands, because unfortunately there is much work for us to do here as well. In this newsletter we want to inform you about recent successes we have booked to improve horse-welfare, successes that would not have been possible without your support!

Less horse suffering in America!

The investigation report by Eyes on Animals and partner organizations AWF, TBS Zurich and AA USA about the circumstances under which horses are transported and slaughtered in North, Central and South America resulted in the EU Commission banning the import of horsemeat from Mexico. Since this ban came into force, the number of horses slaughtered in Mexico has dropped by 60%., Besides that, 93 slaughterhouse employees had to stop work and one slaughterhouse was closed down. Another two are now drastically smaller. In addition, the export of Argentinian horsemeat to The Netherlands has decreased by over 60%!.

Dutch supermarkets and snack producers stop or reduce horsemeat imports

Since we released the investigative footage on Dutch television showing the horrible transport and slaughter conditions in the Americas, we have held several meetings with all the major Dutch supermarkets and snack producers.
Recently, the Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo informed us that due to our documentary they have stopped selling horsemeat from Argentina. A small percentage of the horsemeat Jumbo imports is still from Uruguay, but they are currently looking for an alternative supplier in Europe to replace Uruguay as soon as possible. Albert Heijn supermarket has also stopped selling horsemeat from Argentina, but their horsemeat-sausages are from Uruguay. They are however considering changing this too. Coop and Deen, two other popular Dutch supermarket chains, completely stopped selling horse meat coming from the Americas right after they watched our documentary on TV. Snack producer Mora no longer uses horse meat in their snacks at all. Ad van Geloven has replaced some its imported horse meat with European horse meat to make its snacks; their aim is to stop using imported horse meat from the Americas completely and switch over to just European horse meat where at least there is some legislation and enforcement.

Stricter animal welfare regulations planned for horse markets in The Netherlands

The three Dutch municipalities with the largest horse markets - Zuidlaren, Hedel and Elst - will draw up stricter animal-welfare regulations for these trade markets. Traditionally, horses are being brought to the markets just after midnight and wait there until the end of the afternoon on the following day- roughly 18 hours! Even with water and feed now available, the horses are of course still exhausted and stressed after being on the market for so long. The municipalities want to change this and will no longer allow horses on their markets for longer than eight hours. This is a significant improvement that will reduce the suffering of thousands of horses every year! 
Eyes on Animals has been working hard to improve the welfare of horses sent to the Dutch horse markets. We have held regular meetings with the NVWA (the Dutch authority responsible for enforcing animal welfare and food safety regulations) and negotiated with the market managers, we have been sending them our reports, and also lobbying for better horse welfare rules. These efforts have paid off and have also lead to other improvements, for example: horses are now more often provided with water and hay, horse markets are being monitored more strictly by official veterinarian authorities, the horses are better protected against loud noise from festivities on the market terrain, and the methods used for tying the horses have been improved.
For a long time, one of our main concerns and on-going challenges was the fact that the horses were being held on the markets for so long. Now that Zuidlaren, Hedel and Elst decided to work together and impose stricter animal welfare regulations, finally our wish to limit the time to 8 hours has come true.

This autumn the Eyes on Animals inspectors will again visit the annual horse markets in the Netherlands to keep up the surveillance and pressure to progress further.

Eyes on Animals watches over the welfare of farm animals. We cannot do this work without financial help. Please, do support us with a donation.

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