Cross, N. 2019. A code of welfare for horses and donkeys: establishing standards for the welfare of equids in New Zealand. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 29, 148-149. (13th International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) Conference Abstract)
New Zealand’s code of welfare for horses and donkeys was developed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), under provisions in the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and issued by the Minister for Primary Industries in 2016. This code applies to all horses, ponies, donkeys and hybrids of these in New Zealand. The code contains 15 minimum standards that owners and persons in charge of horses and donkeys in New Zealand must meet including standards relating to equine management, food and water, shelter, housing and facilities, restraint and containment, behavior, handling and training, equipment, breeding, foaling and weaning, identification, health and emergency humane destruction. When developing a code of welfare, NAWAC is required under the Act to take into account good practice and available scientific knowledge, as well as public opinion and any other matters it considers relevant. Minimum standards have legal effect in that failure to meet a minimum standard in a code can be used as evidence to support a prosecution for an offence under the Act. An amendment to the Act was made in 2015 and allows for the development of animal welfare regulations. Regulations around horses and donkeys are currently being developed. These are directly enforceable, are associated with fines and infringements, and are intended to further improve welfare. New Zealand’s regulatory system relies heavily on scientific evidence in order to guide appropriate standard setting to ensure that people meet the physical, health and behavioral needs of their animals.