HEALTH INSURANCE FOR HORSES
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]
Sin,-1 have been much interested in the different discussions on animal welfare, which have appeared from time to time in your columns, and I venture to put forward an aspect which, to my knowledge, has not as yet been mentioned.
It is a well-known fact that the poorer horse-owners cannot afford the services of a veterinary surgeon, and much apparent cruelty is the result. The struggling tradesman can keep only one horse, and that with great difficulty, so that if the animal suffers from some minor ailment which could be cured by rest and a little attention, he can spare neither the time nor the money to allow of this. A case in point was brought to my knowledge some time ago. The R.S.P.C.A. complained that a certain man was working an unfit horse, with the result that the man took it to a veterinary surgeon. The trouble consisted principally of underfeeding and overwork, together with galls due to badly-fitting harness, and the remedy advocated was rest, suitable food and a local application for the sores. The owner was not in a position to carry this out, as he could not spare the money to hire an extra horse whilst his own was off work, and moreover, he was unable to pay for the treatment his animal received. In this instance the veterinary surgeon gave his services gratis and, incidentally, supplied the horse with fodder.
Such cases as this are not witting cruelty, but might even be termed unavoidable cruelty, and although I am aware that much good work has been done in this connexion by charitable organizations, I feel the matter should be put on a proper basis. I would therefore suggest a form of State Insurance for Horses, similar to the National Health Insurance, covering the animals of the poorer owners : this would alleviate much hardship to man and beast. If all horse owners had to take out a licence which could be cancelled in event of persistent cruelty, in my opinion this would be more effective in the prevention of cruelty than twenty days in prison.—! am, Sir,