Live Export from the UK

Watching the docks

On 10th February 2014 the BBC’s Inside Out programme revealed the shocking results of World Horse Welfare’s largest ongoing investigation, uncovering evidence that horses and ponies are being exported through Britain’s ports to uncertain fates on the Continent. It showed that an unknown number of horses and ponies are leaving Britain’s shores under the pretence that they are for leisure or sport – but may in fact be sold for slaughter.

We have been investigating the movement of horses into and out of the UK, including reports of possible export for slaughter, for several years and have always passed any information that we have onto the proper authorities at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately it has become clear that in many cases, proper preventative action from the authorities and enforcement of the law was simply not taking place despite the information that we were providing, and that horses and ponies were being left very vulnerable to abuse as a result. 

ponies at market

Our investigations have found that horses and ponies are leaving our ports without any checks on their welfare or their paperwork. It is impossible to know whether the laws protecting them are being complied with.

These movements are not small or insignificant: over just one weekend of monitoring we saw more than 90 horse boxes – a number of which could carry more than 20 equines – leaving and entering the port of Dover.

World Horse Welfare is calling for the legislation meant to protect our most vulnerable horses and ponies from indiscriminate export to be properly enforced as a matter of urgency. We want to help the enforcement agencies to protect horses and ponies, by continuing to provide intelligence and expertise as we have done in the past.

Find out more by reading our FAQs, or make a donation to help keep our teams on the road.