Call for pros­e­cu­tion for fire­works op­er­a­tors

Af­ter a spate of se­ri­ous in­juries to horses, an owner be­lieves a land­mark crim­i­nal case could ‘change the fu­ture’

Horse & Hound - - Contents - By ELEANOR JONES

PROS­E­CUT­ING un­der the An­i­mal Wel­fare Act could make a huge dif­fer­ence to the dis­tress fire­work dis­plays can cause to horses and other an­i­mals, it has been sug­gested.

Pat Or­mond, of Col­lege

View Stud, War­wick­shire, lost a promis­ing colt in Au­gust 2016.

Col­lege View Chrome suf­fered frac­tured ver­te­brae and had to be put down af­ter a ma­jor dis­play nearby. Mr Or­mond has been call­ing on the RSPCA to pros­e­cute those who held the dis­play.

“If the RSPCA makes a stand, it could change ev­ery­thing,” he told H&H. “Even if they lost, it would be a land­mark. Peo­ple would think twice about let­ting off fire­works as they’d be afraid of be­ing pros­e­cuted.

“Most peo­ple find horses in­jured the next morn­ing, but we found Chrome while they were still go­ing off, we’ve got time-

stamped photos as ev­i­dence.

“I don’t think you could have a bet­ter case — what’s the point of a law if no one’s go­ing to en­force it?”

The An­i­mal Wel­fare Act states that it is an of­fence to cause un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing to any do­mes­tic or cap­tive an­i­mal, and that fire­works must not be set off near horses or live­stock.

The Act states “the of­fence car­ries a fine of up to £20,000 and/or a prison term of six months. The Act is en­forced by coun­cils, an­i­mal health of­fi­cers and the po­lice.”

Mr Or­mond spoke to

H&H dur­ing the lead-up to 5 Novem­ber, when there was a spate of in­ci­dents in­volv­ing horses and fire­works. At Bren­don Stud, West Sus­sex, a brood­mare aborted her foal overnight on 28 Oc­to­ber, when fire­works were let off nearby. The same week­end, a mare spooked by fire­works jumped out of her field in Lin­coln and suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries in a col­li­sion with a car on the A57.

“[This is] a stark re­minder of the dan­gers posed to horses of the ir­re­spon­si­ble use of fire­works,” said a spokesman for Oakham Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal, where the mare was treated.

The Bri­tish Horse So­ci­ety said it has had 123 in­ci­dents in­volv­ing fire­works re­ported since Novem­ber 2010, in­clud­ing 10 horse fa­tal­i­ties and 47 in­juries.

“The RSPCA tak­ing a stand would set things in mo­tion to make peo­ple think twice,” Mr Or­mond said. “I’m not bang­ing the drum for fire­works to be banned, but for peo­ple to be ac­count­able for their ac­tions.

“I could do a civil case but that wouldn’t help any other horses, or an­i­mals, whereas the RSPCA could take a stand for an­i­mal wel­fare and change the fu­ture.”

The RSPCA has been in touch with Mr Or­mond.

“The RSPCA has pros­e­cuted when some­one has used fire­works with the in­ten­tion of caus­ing suf­fer­ing to an an­i­mal,” a spokesman added. “But it would be dif­fi­cult for us to bring a pros­e­cu­tion against any­one us­ing fire­works le­git­i­mately. Even if it could be proved that an an­i­mal suf­fered as a con­se­quence of a dis­play, a court would be un­able to con­vict as us­ing fire­works is a law­ful ac­tiv­ity.”

Thou­sands of peo­ple signed gov­ern­ment pe­ti­tions call­ing for changes to fire­works laws. But the gov­ern­ment said it has no plans to change the leg­is­la­tion.

The gov­ern­ment has no plans to change the laws on fire­works

Col­lege View Chrome was put down af­ter a nearby dis­play

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