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’
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