Blackpool donkeys will benefit from stricter welfare rules
Blackpool's donkeys will get 'home visits' this year as part of their annual checks ahead of the new summer season on the beach.
Traditionally the donkey 'MoTs' have been carried out on a single day with the animals brought along to a council car park for inspection by town hall vets.
Blackpool Council licensing officer Ryan Ratcliffe said: "This year we have to licence the donkeys differently.
"Instead of donkey day, we will visit all the premises where the donkeys are kept and their stables will all be checked by our approved vet.
"It is all about improvements in animal welfare. The stables are where the donkeys are spending the majority of their time and we need to be sure about the standard of welfare before we determine whether someone can have a licence."
The changes are due to the introduction by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 last November, including guidance for the hiring out of horses which replaced the Riding Establishments Act.
There are five donkey stables in Blackpool, with some others outside of the resort which will also be checked.
However the council's own rules for the operation of donkey rides on the beach will continue to apply.
These include that all donkeys must get Fridays off, riders cannot be aged over 16 or weigh more than eight stone and each pitch is only allowed to have up to eight donkeys at a time.
At 1pm each day, all saddles must be loosened and all donkeys fed and watered.
Use of whips and sticks or kicking a donkey is strictly banned. Any officer of the RSPCA or of the environmental services (licensing section) or any police officer is authorised to enforce the council regulations.