Prohibition on the Use of Horses for Pulling Logs

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Associations proposed text:

It is prohibited to:

Use of horses as working force to extract wood from the forest, whether horses pulling logs or transfer them on their back (Art. 4, para. 2, pt. 30)

Explanation: Horrific scenes of horses with open wounds who were daily pulling logs from the forests in Bregana and horses that fell under the weight of wood in Velebit and Gracac forests show the necessity to protect horses from coercion to hard physical work which results in their falls, injuries and their legs and necks breaking.

When exposed to serious physical work horse legs and back get hurt. From long-term exposure by rider weight only, occurs the loss of microcirculation of blood and lymph flow due to constant pressure in the loin muscle tissue. Tissue deformation of the horse back starts after 12-15 minutes of exposure to the rider weight and after 30 minutes the pain is present. Everything above 30 minutes result in tissue trauma, i.e., partial or complete muscular dystrophies. The horse laden with wood carries up to ten meters of wood daily, which means that the horse is exposed to unimaginable pain and merciless neglect of their health and life.

Such exploitation and torture of horses violates the general provisions of the Animal Protection Act by causing pain, suffering and injury, which is strictly prohibited, as the intentional exposure to fear; exposure of animal to adverse temperatures and weather conditions and neglect of animal with regard to their health, accommodation, food and care. Unfortunately, in practice this doesn't make any improvement for the horses as they continue to relentlessly exploit and torture them by forcing to hard work that is beyond their physical capabilities. Since this is happening in the forests, out of inspection sight, it is impossible to control the treatment of horses which is why it's necessary to adopt a legal ban.

In forestry, animal strength, as completely unnecessary was suspended in the last century when the forestry machinery developed, which can operate on any terrain even on the very steep one, and much more effectively than any animal. Experts believe that the use of horses as working force has no purpose in the 21st century, when hard physical labor transferred from animals to humans and modernized machines. Therefore, it is necessary to make the amendments to the Animal Protection Act in order to prohibit the use of horses for extraction of wood, whether horses pulling logs or transfer them on their back. Such a ban would not forbid them as working force in general but for extracting and carrying wood.

Horses pulling logs out of the woods are exposed to full-day physical effort which leads to hard physical labour and overwork of animals harming their health. But it's common practice to also use horses in locations that are easily accesible thus abusing animals for hard physical labour which could be done by forestry logging equipment.

We remind you that logging horses transfer on average five meters of wood daily on their backs, but according to the horse owners' statements in the media, horses daily transfer even ten meters of wood. In doing so, horses walk miles and miles daily on their backs carrying heavy load. In comparison to other horse breeds, as a result of the hard labour, these horses live shorter, up to 10 years. Very often these horses fall, break their legs and necks when they are send to slaughterhouses. We are talking about gruelling and dangerous work for animals with relatively poor working effect.

As an animal association, we are witnesses of abuse of logging horses and we have photographs that show those horrible sights of tortured and wounded horses. It's difficult to subsequently determinate if the horses are overworked or tortured due to the limited possibilities of arrival of the veterinary inspection in the area where horse logging takes place. Besides, it is not possible for the veterinary inspection to control and follow regularly if a horse has been working for one or for eight hours, if a horse is provided with care, if he is too young or too old, if he is provided with adequate veterinary care and how is the horse treated.

We point out the following issues which we believe are important to take into account:

The usage of forestry vehicles doesn't endanger forests because, due to activity of forest flora and fauna, the soil can recover itself from trampling and compacting so the trampling impacts on soil are not permanent and doesn't have bad consequences for the ecosystem. Also, there should not be any potentional damages from a blowout of oil pipings on vehicles if the vehicle is technically valid, but if accident still happens, there are sets/eqipment bags for the absorption of oil and other chemicals. Therefore, just as there is an equipment for ADR/carriage of flammable chemicals regulated, the same can be done for the forestry machine equipment (so called SPC absorbents, for example: http://www.cortecros.hr/Hrv/Proizvodi.aspx?root=42&id=98).

In respect of the arguments that horse logging affects the employment of the rural population, we believe that encouraging the cultivation of organic fruits and vegetables in those clean rural areas would in a long term be more sustainable and cost effective than the dying horse logging tradition.

Furthermore, in respect of the argument that the investment in the forestry roads and cableways are cost-prohibitive, and thus also the investment in adquate forestry mechanization, it also indicates the necessity of legal protection for the logging horses. We believe that many of these areas could use tractor with logging winch: https://youtu.be/_pQovvmzuYQ.

We also point out at the possibility of horses contracting infectious diseases and zoonosis which makes the health of the logging horses even more endangered. The infectious anemia of equidae occurs right in the forestry areas with bloodsucking insects, while hard labour decreases the natural immunity of an animal. Serious, acute forms of leptospirosis accompanied with fever, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, hepatitis and nephritic syndrome, jaundice, hematuria and respiratory distresses occur with horses that are used for hard labouring works. Apart from the posibility of causing eye inflammation and blindness of horses, leptospirosis can also be transferred to people, causing serious health consequences. It is particularily important because, according to the available data, Croatia has the highest incidence of human leptospirosis of all the European countries.

Order on measures to protect animals from infectious and parasitic diseases and the financing thereof in 2015 prescribes the examination of horses for infectious anemia of equidae as well as the control of the viral arteritis of horses, leptospirosis, West Nile Virus and rhinopneumonitis of horses. As far as we know, horses that are used for logging are not tested for these diseases annually which is a threat to the health of both horses and people working with them. The undeniable fact is that, apart from these diseases, horses are seriously exposed to injuries and the injuries happen not only from logging but also from the eqipment alone (belts, pack saddles- horses injure ther necks, shoulders and entire bodies and chains are grinding their legs)
The care of the welfare of horses has decreased in the whole world which is reflected in the number of regulations and proposals with respect to their protection. Consequently we find important to regulate this important issue as we suggested.

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