Licensing of Sanctuaries and Rehoming Centres

Group of ponies sunning themselves in a grassy field

There is currently no specific legislation in the UK to ensure that rescue centres and sanctuaries meet certain standards. While Scotland has consulted on licensing of these establishments and promised to introduce legislation in the near future, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have failed to make the same commitment. 

While most rescue centres and sanctuaries will have been set-up by people who have the expertise and resources needed to properly care for and rehabilitate these animals, no-one is checking that this is the case. Those equines that are fortunate enough to be taken in by these organisations often are at their most vulnerable and the licensing of these centres will ensure that they are given the protection they deserve.

Currently, in the UK, rescue centres and sanctuaries can become members of The National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC), who conduct site visits to approve membership and offer education and support to help ensure organisations meet minimum welfare requirements. However, this is on a voluntary basis and not all rescue centres and sanctuaries have signed-up.

We, therefore, want to see the licensing of rescue centres and sanctuaries required in law with standards set-out in supporting guidance – in the UK, these should be based on the Codes of Practice and the NEWC standards. Our intent is not to close-down those dedicated organisations that strive to offer vulnerable horses a better future, but to ensure clear guidance is available on how they can best protect the welfare of their horses. However, in those circumstances where welfare is compromised, it would also allow for this to be established more easily and action to be taken.

Help us to build a case for licensing of equine rescue centres and sanctuaries by responding to our survey and telling us whether you support this call and why.