My book There From The Start focuses on the daily hazards and hardships suffered by both the horses and their riders and carers.
Much is written of the iconic suffering horses of WW1, but the men who looked after them are usually forgotten. My book There From The Start focuses on the daily hazards and hardships suffered by both the horses and their riders and carers. They fought, rested and died together and the bond and empathy not to mention the emotional support they gave each other was incredible.
My grandfather was in the horse drawn artillery and rode the horses as they pulled the guns into battle. He and his colleagues did their upmost to alleviate the horse’s misery under almost impossible conditions. The feeding, watering and grooming always came before their own deprivations.
When possible most of the driver’s time was focused on caring for the needs of the horses which was particularly important later in the war when replacements were scarce. It was vital to keep them healthy and uninjured. Whenever possible they were fed and watered four times a day, groomed and checked for injury and ailments.
Men wept writing home about their faithful friends.
Drivers often wept as they wrote home about the plight of their faithful friends. When nothing else was available they used their socks to rub them down or to bandage a cracked heel and used their own clothing to wrap round the breast collar, girth galls and harness to keep them from rubbing the sore spots. Such was their devotion.
Ironically after four years on the western front without respite my grandfather received his third wound, which took him out of the war, when a German aircraft dropped a “daisy cutter” bomb onto the horse lines a mile behind the front while he was feeding, watering and grooming them. He survived but many didn’t.
While irresponsible pet ownership continues to escalate in the UK, the Government rests on its laurels under the misapprehension that their oft quoted saying that ” we have the best animal welfare laws in the world” is actually true.
While dangerous dogs roam the U.K attacking, injuring and killing humans and children alike, not to mention other dogs and livestock in ever increasing numbers, record numbers of unwanted pets in rescue centres and incidents of neglect and cruelty prevalent, the UK government scrapped its flagship animal welfare bill a few months ago, a 2019 election promise and seems to be in no hurry to take the issues seriously.
Spain’s new animal laws leading the way.
Whereas in Spain it appears they may be leading the way in really tackling the blight of irresponsible and uninformed dog and cat owning by introducing new laws from September 29, 2023. These are quite stringent with the inclusion of some far reaching and controversial requirements. All prospective dog owners must complete a course on how to look after them before acquiring one and present owners have two years to do the course. Failure or refusal means no dog ownership.
All pet owners must notify the authorities of an animal’s ownership so that a register can be kept. Non registered are subjected to seizure and sent to a protection centre and the owner fined. Third party civil liability insurance, vaccination and neutering will all be mandatory on dogs and cats which are not kept solely indoors. Most of these measures have a with 10,000 euro fine attached. Dogs can only be left home alone maximum six to eight hours, two hours in case of puppies or risk a 10,000 euro fine.
New fines and penalties have been drastically increased and divided into categories of seriousness of the offence and range from 500 euros to 200,000 euros and 3 to 18 months behind bars. These are way above UK penalties.
Are draconian laws to tackle irresponsible pet ownership the answer.
Draconian I hear everyone cry, but have we reached the point where they are necessary. Pushing the message that not all people have a right to own a pet despite their financial and physical circumstances has always been avoided for fear of riots in the streets, but the cause of most problems over the last few decades is that we have never addressed this issue. Even if Spain’s new regulations prove to be unenforceable it is a step in the right direction if we are ever to get on top of feckless and irresponsible ownership. But I fear most dog owners may not agree or would they?