They shoot sad horses don’t they? Horses should be put down if they have poor mental health, experts say
- Experts call for end of life considerations for depressed or stressed horses
- Euthanasia would be an option if the animals’ emotional welfare was suffering
- RSPCA appears to back the move in ‘very serious cases’ where the animal’s quality of life would be impacted and it would be in their ‘best interest’
Medical experts say horse owners should consider difficult end of life options if their beloved animals show signs of deteriorating mental health.
Euthanasia could be considered for bereaved horses whose mental wellbeing suffers after the loss of their closest companion.
Experts conducted a study in which horses’ psychological health was examined in respect of an end of life treatment in 30 different scenarios.
Out of the 160-person panel, just 11 backed the decision to put down a horse for reasons other than physical injury.
And the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) appears to have backed such calls in the most ‘serious cases’ involving horses’ emotional welfare.
Euthanasia could be considered for bereaved horses whose mental wellbeing suffers after the loss of their closest companion. [File picture]
The survey was commissioned by the UK-based Equine Behaviour and Training Association – which is described as a group of ‘dedicated and experienced horse-owners, behaviorists and academics’.
Dr Catherine Bell, who represents the EBTA and led the survey, explained there were certain scenarios in which horses facing welfare concerns should be considered for euthanasia.
‘We’re not suggesting the minute your horse looks a bit miserable you should be putting him or her down,’ she explained to equestrian magazine Horse & Hound.
‘But if your horse has looked miserable for a long time, even if there is no physical reason, this is something that should be looked at.
‘It’s not always a catastrophic physical factor that makes the decision obvious.’
Experts claimed there are certain scenarios in which horses facing welfare concerns, beyond severe physical injury, should be considered for euthanasia. [File picture]
The Telegraph reports the findings of the study, Attitudes of the Equestrian Public towards Equine End-of-Life Decisions, may breach official RSPCA regulations, which state animals should not be put down unless in their ‘best interest’.
A spokesperson for the charity said: ‘In some very serious … cases, vets and behaviour experts may determine that an animal’s well-being is so seriously impacted by their mental health or that their behavioural needs are so severe that, despite best efforts, it’s impossible to ensure them a good quality of life free from fear, stress and suffering.
‘If this is the case then it’s important to seek help and, if necessary, consider whether the kindest option is to put them to sleep rather than let them endure a lifetime of suffering.’
The British Horse Society explains euthanasia is an option that can be considered by owners following illness, accidents, old age or the discovery of pre-existing medical conditions.