1 October 2018

Horse / Animal Removal

The Problem

Fly grazing is the un-authorised grazing of horses on private or public land. Currently fly-grazing on private land is a civil matter.

As many as 3,000 horses are thought to be illegally fly-grazing across the country. (Gov.uk 26.05.15)

As the landowner you are responsible for the welfare of the animal whilst it is illegally grazed on your property.

Fly-grazed horses can damage land, crops and fencing, restrict space for livestock and cost money to provide for their welfare and safety.

If you find a horse on your land – whether you think it is an abandonment case or your land is being fly-grazed – it is important to keep a record of all your actions, any advice you seek from professionals, anything you do regarding the care of the horse, and any costs you incur.

By keeping clear records this will help to prove you have acted responsibly and made every effort to resolve the situation, and cover yourself against a future claim.

The Law

The Control of Horses Act 2015 provides an amendment to the Animals Act 1971 and allows for tighter controls on the illegal grazing of horses (fly-grazing) and abandonment.

Under the Control of Horses Act 2015:

  • Fly-grazing animals must be reported to the Police within 24 hours.
  • A notice must be displayed at the field where the horse is being fly-grazed, or in a prominent position near to the horse if tethered.
  • If you know who the owner of the horse is then you must also serve a notice on them.
  • The landowner is responsible for the welfare of the animal on the site.
  • If the animal is not claimed by the owner within 4 working days (excluding weekends and bank holidays) then ownership of the animal passes to the person detaining the animal.
  • The animal may be disposed of by the new owner as they see fit through sale at market or public auction, private sale, gifting, rehoming, or destroyed.
  • If selling the horse privately it is advisable to obtain a professional valuation, and then from the sale you would be entitled to deduct your reasonable costs and damages. You should bear in mind that any money left over is recoverable by the person who was previously entitled to the horse.

This applies to England only.

For Wales contact the local authority which has detainment powers under the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014.

The Solution

For Land in England Specialist Certificated Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs) with experience of horse and animal removal are able to assist you the landowner in adhering to the legislation.

  • Detain the horses on site.
  • Conduct a Health & Safety risk assessment.
  • Check the horses have adequate food and water at the time detained and during the detainment period.
  • Notify the Police and other authorities.
  • Serve the statutory notices at the site and on the owner where known.
  • Photograph horses and notices in place.
  • Deal with any telephone calls that come as a result of the notices.
  • Deal with people claiming to be the owner.
  • If horses have not been removed after the statutory time limit, arrange for the horses to be removed from site to either a new owner, livery storage, given to a horse charity, sold at public auction or humanely destroyed.
  • Arrange for horse passports as required. It is illegal to move or sell a horse that does not have a passport.

Contact a local
Certificated Bailiff
Enforcement Agent

England & Wales

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