Why does my horse, pony or donkey need a passport?Since 1st June 2009 it has been a legal requirement for all equines in the UK to have their own passport. Equines being registered for the first time must also be permanently identified with a microchip as well. This was due to a change in the category of the equine species from a domestic animal, like the cat or dog, to a food producing animal.
Whilst it is very uncommon for equines originating from within the UK to enter the human food chain; this is not the case outside the UK. The reason for every equid to have a passport is to enable the legal enforcement of medicines recording to safeguard us through our food. Any medicine given to a food producing animal must be recorded in this document and drug withdrawal times complied. Of course, many of the medicines available for use within the equine industry are not safe for humans, and as such, we are able to opt out of ever allowing our equine to be used as a food producing animal.
Within every passport issued since 1st June 2009, section IX is present. This is the section which means the passport is legally compliant. The owner or keeper of the horse must make a declaration within this section stating the intent regarding whether the horse is intended for slaughter for human consumption or not. Any horse having been issued a passport as an adult, or as a replacement will automatically be excluded from entering the food chain.
What about microchipping?From October 2020 it will also be a legal requirement for every equine to be permanently identified by means of a microchip. This means any horse passport prior to 1st June 2009 that has not already been microchipped, will have to have a new microchip implanted and registered.
This is facilitate the registration of all equines within the UK in a Central Horse Database, allowing identification of owners in abandonment scenarios in the hope of improving equine welfare within the UK. Penalties are likely to be given to those not complying with this ruling with sanctions of up to £200 fines becoming possible.