Friday, June 13, 2008

EU tightens reins for horse trade

Horses are getting the equivalent of pet passports

The new regulation is due to come into force in July next year.

Owners will have to get an electronic chip inserted into their foal's neck in the first six months after its birth.

The plan is to prevent the spread of diseases and avoid the risk of horsemeat going on sale from animals that have been given medication.

Horsemeat is eaten widely in the EU. Countries where it appears on the menu include Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.

A pet passport scheme which allows cats and dogs into Britain without quarantine has been in effect since February 2000.

Dogs and cats which have been microchipped, vaccinated and tested for rabies are allowed into Britain without having to spend six months in quarantine.

The European Commission's new regulation, announced on Monday, does not affect imports of equine animals from countries outside the EU, nor those that are left to roam wild.

An animal included in the scheme will have a lifetime passport and a "unique life number" that stays with it, even if its name changes.