With the regular trade of equines for meat, there are many horse fairs held throughout the year across France. Unlike the UK which has the Welfare of Horses at Markets (and other places of sale) Order (1990), France has no such legislation or guidelines. However, there are loading and unloading regulations in place via the Transport regulations as well as the Code Rural articles dealing with farm animal care.
Following training into undercover recording techniques kindly funded by a grant from the WSPA, ERF have invested in undercover filming equipment to record our visits to markets across France. At these markets we aim to observe, watching for contraventions of the current regulations. Only when an animal is in significant distress can we become involved for safety reasons. Evidence collected is later presented to the Market owners, the DDSV (National Veterinary Department) and the EU Commission. Working in this way, we are able to ensure that fairs understand their obligations and meet them, local vets understand and meet their obligations and a dossier of contraventions is compiled at an EU level as a base for prosecution if required.
ERF also track vehicles to and from fairs to ensure that transport regulations are met.
To date, ERF have visited several key fairs and reported many to the authorities for breaches of the welfare regulations. Follow up visits have shown that these activities have significantly improved the practices at the fairs, improving the welfare of the animals passing through.
ERF can only continue to observe and report with the help of donations from our supporters. Each fair visit incurs costs – diesel, food, phone calls and often an overnight stay as unloading starts from 5am. For safety reasons, we work in pairs. The recording equipment purchased so far has cost in the region of 1000€ and more is required to increase the effectiveness of our visits.
Please consider donating to support this much needed activity – we are the only welfare organisation in France visiting these fairs and campaigning for change.