Bardot champions Belgian police horses
Film star and animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot called on Belgium Thursday not to change its retirement system for police horses, warning they could end up at the slaughter house as a result.
"The cost savings planned by the police threaten the future and security of horses at the end of their working lives," Bardot said in a letter released by her animal welfare foundation.
"That is why I ask you not to undermine a system which has proved its worth by ensuring a well deserved retirement for many horses," she said, adding that the cost savings were minimal.
Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet is currently considering plans to end the system, with government finances tight.
Since 1991, police horses past working age have gone to 'adoptive families' which must meet strict criteria to ensure the animals' welfare and be subject to annual inspections.
In the future, animal rights groups fear the horses may be sold without any follow-up, opening the possibility that they could end in the slaughter house although Milquet's proposals expressly rule that out.
Bardot highlighted the issue by referring to an EU food safety scandal earlier this year when horsemeat was found to have been passed off as beef in prepared foods.
"The recent investigation into the horsemeat trade showed that animals, on paper excluded from going for slaughter, could find their way onto the international market," Bardot said.
© 2013 AFP