New transportation laws and a drought-induced hay crisis might be at the root of a recent reversal in equine welfare progress in Romania. More animals are reportedly being abandoned or malnourished than in previous years, according to numerous accounts coming from within the Eastern European nation.

Despite the presence of two international animal protection groups in Romania since 2001, the regions are scattered with “dozens of horses everywhere, left in the fields to feed themselves with the little grass available,” according to Sara Turetta, president of Save the Dogs, an Italian-based charity focusing on the welfare of domestic animals in Romania. “People don’t want to see them starving and dying in their home (facilities),” she said from her Bucharest station.

Map of EU showing Romania

Romania has been a member nation of the EU since Jan. 1, 2007.

Recent legislation changes regarding Romanian roadways are cited as a source of the problem in an article published on Britain’s Jan. 26. Author Gethin Chamberlain stated that the horses have become “victims of a disastrous attempt to bring the country into line with European Union (EU) law by banning horse-drawn carts from main roads.”

However, the European Union does not specifically regulate the presence of horses and carts in any of its member countries, according to Michele Cercone, spokesperson for Transports of the European Commission. “This specific matter falls under the national competence, and on this issue there can be no EU legislati