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The British Horse Society

Bill To Amend The Animal Health Act 1981

Joint statement from the British Horse Society and British Equine Veterinary Association

After consultations with DEFRA, the BHS and BEVA are agreed that the
provisions of this Bill should not alarm horse (pony, donkey, ass and mule)

Taken out of context and read in isolation, the Bill to amend the Animal Act
1981, may well give rise to misunderstandings and interpretations. However,
it should be read together with not only the guidance notes but also the
original Animal Health Act 1981.

The main purpose of this Bill is to provide additional powers to deal with
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies
(TSE) in sheep. The Bill also makes a number of amendments to the
enforcement provisions of the Animal Health Act 1981.

In the 1981 Act, the terms 'animals' and 'disease' are clearly defined, and
unless the context otherwise requires, 'animals' means cattle, sheep, goats,
and also all other ruminants and swine. Within the Act powers already exist
to extend the definition of 'animals' to include any kind of mammal except
man, and just about any other kind of creature. In the Act, the meaning of
'disease' is also clearly defined, and this definition can, by order, be
extended to cover any other disease of animals.

In common with the Act, provisions under the Bill to extend the power to
slaughter, in cases of specified diseases, does not and will not apply to
non-susceptible and non-clinical carrier species (that is animals that can
neither get nor transmit the specified disease in a clinical sense).
Further, the Bill makes new offence of 'deliberately infecting an animal
with a certain disease or intending to do so'. The specified diseases to
which this new offence relates are listed in Schedule 2A of the Bill.

Further, horse owners should not be concerned about African Horse Sickness,
listed in Schedule 2A. Whilst the disease is endemic in tropical regions of
Africa, only a few cases have been reported outside Africa, such as the Near
and Middle East (1959-63), in Spain (1966, 1987-90) and in Portugal (1989).
This disease is not directly contagious; it can only be passed from one
horse to another by a biological vector such as infected mosquitoes.

The UK and Europe already have strict import (and export) controls vital to
disease control and surveillance.

Find out more, visit the links page or find answers on the message board.