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Control of Horses Act Receives Royal Assent

02 April 2015

UK - New laws to stop people illegally abandoning horses have received Royal Assent, improving horse welfare standards across the country.

The Control of Horses Act will help deter people from illegally grazing or simply abandoning horses on public and private land, known as ‘fly-grazing’.

Animal welfare groups estimate that there are over 3,000 horses illegally fly-grazing in this country.

The changes, which come into force on 26 May, mean horse owners who fly-graze their animals can now be dealt with more quickly and effectively.

The new Act has been welcomed by animal welfare charities, local authorities, and landowners. It was brought forward as a Private Member’s Bill by Julian Sturdy MP and supported by the Government throughout its passage through Parliament.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said: “The new law represents a huge step forward in getting owners to pay proper attention to their horses’ welfare, while also helping ensure local communities aren’t blighted by fly-grazing.

“We are grateful for the widespread support for the changes from across the equine sector and animal welfare groups, which has made this possible.”

Under the previous Animals Act 1971 an abandoned horse could only be disposed of through sale at market or public auction.

The new law extends the options for dealing with abandoned horses, which now include private sale, gifting and rehoming.

The changes also allow local authorities and private owners and occupiers of land to deal with abandoned horses more quickly – within four working days, instead of fourteen days, as the 1971 law currently requires.

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