NEWC advises all its members to strictly adhere to the Government’s directive to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel. Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of everyone around you.
It is still considered ‘essential’ to attend to the welfare of horses and other livestock, making your travel as an employee, owner or volunteer to provide care permissible under the current guidance.
We will share any information which becomes available from the Government as well as from the equine and allied sectors. To help you through these uncertain and rapidly-changing times, we’ve put together some guidance around looking after and managing horses under the current requirements. Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation.
Triage of care – veterinary and farriery services are currently operating under a triage, or traffic-light, system in order to determine which cases require attendance in person or if a visit could be postponed.
Please familiarise yourself with the current information provided in the links below:
FAQs – we have addressed below some of the concerns that might arise during these unprecedented circumstances:
Why can’t rescue centres admit equines at the moment?
All NEWC members and other responsible charities will already be assisting as many equines in need as possible, with the resources of money, people and facilities at their disposal. Limits on movement of people and therefore animals will force us to all do the minimum necessary to deal with only the most urgent welfare concerns. At the end of the initial period of the most extensive lockdown measures, charities will increase their capacity to respond and prioritise the most urgent cases until they can return to a normal level of service.
Why can’t I rehome a horse at the moment?
Following the Government’s stay at home advice and ban on non-essential travel, our member charities and rescue centres will be focusing their efforts on the welfare of the horses in their care. Most charities are currently experiencing much reduced staff numbers and therefore are needing to prioritise their time to focus on the maintenance care of their horses on site. It is critical that employees are kept safe as well as the horses in their care and members of the public. Once the travel ban is lifted, some charities may be able to rehome on a case by case basis via their remote schemes, which will free-up much needed space for new admissions.
Why can’t charities provide financial help to owners?
Charities that are members of NEWC have been working at maximum capacity for the last few years (during what has become known as the equine crisis) and have saved money held in reserves as required by fundraising regulations, to ensure they can manage times of extreme financial challenge or as a last resort, to ensure the orderly winding down of a charity. These reserves will have suffered a decline in value alongside all other investments.
The charities are also likely to need to draw on these reserves to protect their staff and animals in the next weeks and months. Everyone is going to face difficult decisions and there will be limited funds to support other charities and individuals who are concerned about continuing to provide care for the animals they are responsible for. All the NEWC members will do their utmost to provide helpful guidance and direct owners to sources of further information; but it is unlikely that they will be able to admit animals, provide financial support or offer direct help in all but the most exceptional circumstances.
Can I still volunteer?
Following the government stay at home guidance and restrictions on non-essential travel, many of our members are having to adapt to the changing situation and put temporary measures in place, which may mean they are currently unable to recruit new volunteers due to restricted time and resources. Once the travel ban is lifted it is worth getting in touch with them if you are still keen to volunteer as your help and support may be very much appreciated.
Some smaller charities may rely on volunteers to care for the equines in their care. If this is the case, they should follow the Government’s guidelines with regards to social distancing and no one should volunteer if they are experiencing any symptoms of covid-19, or if they are classed as or live with a vulnerable person.
Why aren’t horses being rescued by the RSPCA?
Each year charities such as the RSPCA answer more than a million calls from the public concerned about animals. The RSPCA is still rescuing horses from emergencies. The RSPCA have a team of frontline officers working around the clock across England and Wales to deal with emergency-only cases.
What is classed as an emergency by the RSPCA?
RSPCA inspectors are dealing with emergencies, which are classed as cases where: there is an immediate risk to life; the animal is critically injured or in imminent danger; or where the animal is likely to die in the near future without help. RSPCA officers will also deal with cases where animals have been abandoned and are not able to fend by themselves and the RSPCA will also be on hand to offer telephone advice and guidance where appropriate, or signpost to other charities and organisations that can help.
How can people help equine charities?
The NEWC member charities all rely on voluntary donations to fund all of their services. The biggest help people can provide for charities is through donating, to enable them to continue their vital support to equines in need. However, it is really important that people check that charities are reputable and that their support will provide the best possible benefit to animals. Naturally, we would ask that people support charities that are members of the National Equine Welfare Council, as this provides reassurance that they are genuine, and that they meet NEWC standards for animal care and governance. Be extra careful of supporting fundraising campaigns that are not operated through registered charities.
How can people help field officers?
Please only contact equine welfare charities in the event of an emergency. For everything else please look on charity websites as there is lots of information on there. We would ask those calling with emergencies to be patient as, despite contingency planning, charities have fewer people available to answer calls. The charities are also asking the public to be supportive by understanding that they cannot see as many cases as before; and if reporting a concern to a charity, please be patient and understanding if additional information is asked for to try and ensure we do get to the most needy animals first.
How can people help each other?
If you care for animals, follow the Government and NHS advice to be prepared if you have to go into isolation or hospital and have all the information ready and confirm that there are people willing and able to look after your animal’s essential needs.
Who can people contact for advice?
Because all the charities and equestrian organisations are running on skeleton staff, please don’t call, avoid unnecessary emails and first look at the links provided here and follow links to reputable organisations.
Many different questions and scenarios may arise during the coronavirus pandemic. There is a wealth of information and guidance available from the sources below:
The British Horse Society
World Horse Welfare
The Donkey Sanctuary
The British Equestrian Federation (1)
NEWC have also previously issued advice related to responsible rehoming, and for owners looking to cut costs while maintaining the care of their animals, both of which contain useful advice and information that may be of use during the current situation.