End of an Era

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The current committee at ERF have made the difficult decision to call a halt to the hands-on section of the association. We have tried to find people committed enough to take this on, but have so far been unsuccessful. (If anyone reading this is interested in how to continue what we have been doing, please contact ERF on erfwelfare@gmail.com before the 7th of March. Time and expenses are entirely voluntary.)

The hands-on part involves the reporting of welfare cases with all the necessary accompanying work, the liaising with various French authorities, the market work, the telephone calls, the driving to check neglected animals, the dealing with the public in general, the administration, the fundraising and the various other tasks involved in the practicalities of running the association successfully. All our ERF equines who are in forever homes that we trust implicitly will be signed over to the guardians. We will ensure that there is an assured future for those equines currently not in a forever home.

The website blog and social media will continue in a campaigning format under an as yet to be decided name change. Access to these will no longer form part of ERF.

We are proud to have made a big impact on some of the bad guys with our campaigning, and that will continue.

We are proud to have established a tried and tested method of forcing the authorities to attend welfare cases in most regions. As ever, the final responsibility for individual cases lies with the governmental vets, so part of what we did was to keep pushing for action to be taken. Similar to the UK, we can only work within the law, and sometimes we are helpless as to outcomes, but dealing with that comes with the territory.

Often we have felt like angels of death, because for many of the horses we were directed to, their suffering was such that a swift end was the best outcome.

The French have a different attitude to timely euthanasia than the British. For them, leaving an elderly animal to die is the norm, the right thing to do. They consider it cruel to end a life before natural death. We have on some occasions had to press the vets into accepting that age is not an excuse for emaciation, and a slow unpleasant death is not the correct way for a horse to end his/her days.

We have learned so much about why some situations occur in France. Take for example, equines with long feet. Historically, in the rural areas, the older generation would have been brought up with these equines working or going for meat, hence feet would have naturally pared with working, or once the working life was over, the body would have fed the family. For pets, this isn’t happening, and seemingly kind caring homes where the equines are well fed fail to acknowledge the need for foot care. There’s a lack of education within the small communities that is sometimes hard for the British mentality to comprehend.

Euthanasing an equine in France can be incredibly expensive. The state is responsible for the uplift and disposal of the bodies, and charges accordingly. The equine must be killed by injection, by a vet. The body cannot be buried on your land. Rural France is not prosperous, much of it tallies with the UK 50 years ago. People just cannot afford to have their animals euthanased and collected. The local abattoirs are closing making it difficult to take the live equine to slaughter, so there is a tendency to just wait for the animal to die.

Making welfare calls is about assessing situations. The naivety with which we approached cases, and our Utopian expectation of good outcomes seems such a long time ago. Honing down the accumulated wisdom of the past eight years leads to two conclusions.

Educate ignorance where there is a desire to learn, and punish cruelty hard. Those that abuse without conscience or guilt can only be hit in the pocket, or with their freedom. The regulations need to be stronger, watertight and ENFORCED. This is where the the campaigning drive of ERF will be focussed in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and a heartfelt thanks to those of you who have supported us in so many ways over the years.