Warning to unscrupulous horse dealers as man must pay £10,000 for license and passport offences
James Harbour was found guilty by Colchester Magistrates Court on 29 June of 18 offences including exporting horses and ponies without health certificates, forging export licences and travelling horses without passports.
Essex Trading Standards prosecuted the case which was investigated by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency's (AHVLA) portal team based at Dover, after a tip off from a World Horse Welfare field officer who had obtained information that the horse dealer had been exporting vulnerable ponies through the port of Harwich in Essex.
Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said: "We are very concerned about the welfare of horses and ponies that are transported out of the country without the necessary checks and paperwork, as often that means the dealers responsible cut corners on welfare too. I hope this case sends a clear message to those who do not follow the rules that they can be found out. It's an important part of our field officers' jobs to speak to people in their local communities and we get a lot of useful information that way. People can also contact us anonymously with information at email@example.com."
A spokesperson for AHVLA said:
"The valuable intelligence that World Horse Welfare provided alerted us to Mr. Harbour's increased export activity and to concerns that he was attempting to flout rules designed to both protect the welfare of animals and prevent the spread of animal diseases.
As a result, and by working closely with Essex Trading Standards and the Port of Harwich, we were able to identify Mr Harbour's travel patterns, assess the degree of non-compliance and to decide upon the appropriate action to take. Further investigations resulted, from which a pattern of offending emerged.
This prosecution will demonstrate to all that organisations concerned with the welfare of animals and the prevention of disease can and do work together extremely effectively, enabling resources to be concentrated against those intent on ignoring the law in the pursuit of profit."
Compliance with health and welfare legislation is vital to protect the UK Horse Industry from the introduction and spread of notifiable disease. AHVLA's portal team based in Dover continually monitor the movement of horses and ponies shipped through ports in the South East of England. Working closely with other agencies and organisations such as World Horse Welfare helps to identify issues of concern, which in turn helps to target resources to where they can be most effectively deployed, all with the goal of helping to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare are maintained.