Newfoundland Pony Society Concerned the Future of the Pony is Endangered by Provincial Government Action

March 20, 2014 – The Newfoundland and Labrador Government appears to be supporting a proposal without proper public consultation that could see the end of the Newfoundland pony as a heritage animal and distinct breed. The Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Derrick Dalley, is considering moving the Newfoundland pony under the Federal Animal Pedigree Act as an “evolving” breed.

The Newfoundland Pony Society has taken a firm stand against this move in order to uphold its mandate of protecting and preserving the pony in its established form under Provincial Legislation.  The Newfoundland Pony Society, in existence since 1979 maintains that the Newfoundland pony, following 400 years of evolution, is a unique breed and as a designated heritage animal, should remain under provincial protection.

The Newfoundland Pony Society is calling on the Provincial Government to halt to any further steps in this process. The NPS is also asking the public to voice their concerns to Natural Resources Minister, Derrick Dalley at derrickdalley@gov.nl.ca.

“It is important that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are aware that the survival of the Newfoundland Pony as a protected, heritage animal is once again at stake,” said Jack Harris, Member of Parliament and Newfoundland Pony Society Board Member. “The Newfoundland Government must allow the people of this province and international breeders who love the pony as it is, to have input on the irreversible direction in which they are taking the pony,” Harris added.

“I am one of many pony owners who oppose giving our registry to a Federal agency. As Newfoundlanders, our pony is one of the few things we have left that is distinctly our own. We have the only equine in the world that is capable of changing colours 4 times a year; they are called ‘radical colour changers,’” said St. John’s pony owner, Helen Goyer. “If this change goes ahead, with so much mixing of breeds, our perfect pony as it has been for 400 years, will be forever lost,” Goyer added.

About the Newfoundland Pony Society

The Newfoundland Pony Society was founded in 1979 and was incorporated in 1981 as a Registered Charity (#899 123 053 RRO 001). In 1994, a resolution was brought to the floor of the House of Assembly by then MHA Jack Harris that laid the groundwork for the protection of the Newfoundland Pony and the creation of the Heritage Animals Act. The Newfoundland Pony Society is designated as the organization responsible for the preservation and protection of this animal. For more information, visit www.newfoundlandpony.com.

Images of Newfoundland Ponies:

Images of the Newfoundland Pony are available for download at the links below.

Information Resources:

http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/agrifoods/animal/livestock/nl_pony.html
http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/agrifoods/animal/animal_health/pdf/ha_05_001_nl_pony_heritage.pdf
http://www.rarebreedscanada.ca/

Frequently Asked Questions

Why the Animal Pedigree Act Threatens the Survival of the Newfoundland Pony

What is a Newfoundland Pony?

The Newfoundland pony is a distinct breed formed by its natural environment.

The ancestors of the Newfoundland Pony arrived with Newfoundland’s early settlers from the British Isles. Their ancestors were primarily Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest ponies and to a lesser extent, Welsh Mountain, Galloway (extinct), Highland and Connemara ponies. They were hardy creatures who were already well adapted to the harsh climate of the islands of the North Atlantic. Isolated from the rest of the world, the ponies intermingled for 400 years, breeding in the seclusion of Newfoundland’s bays and coves to produce a sturdy pony uniquely our own.

Why is the Newfoundland Pony breed so special?

Most of the breeds we know today are modern breeds.  This means that they are genetically manipulated by humans. The Newfoundland pony is amazing because it has not (yet) been altered, or “improved” as it’s called.  Even despite it being critically endangered because of the thousands that were shipped out of Newfoundland to the meat plants, it is so genetically diverse and healthy that it can thrive once again without introducing new blood to its gene pool – and without crossbreeding it.

What is the Animal Pedigree Act (APA)?

The Canadian Animal Pedigree Act oversees associations under a Federal program for livestock – pigs, goats, cows, etc. Its stated purpose is, “to promote breed improvement, and to protect persons who raise and purchase animals.”

Why will inclusion under the APA hurt the pony?

The APA is not a program for the protection of the animal. The APA is not ‘rare breed’ sensitive and does not use a conservation approach for Heritage animals to preserve their precious, rare genetics. Under the APA, the Newfoundland pony will be opened to genetic alteration.

What is the Newfoundland Pony Society registry?

The registry is a database on ponies that is maintained by the Newfoundland Pony Society that have gone through the process of identification and verification of purebred status as defined by definition and the characteristics of what constitutes a Newfoundland pony.  This was defined by the people of Newfoundland who have lived with and known these ponies for a very long time.  Registered ponies can be traced back to original foundation stock ponies in Newfoundland who arrived hundreds of years ago. The ID process involves DNA testing and identification.  When new ponies come up for registration, their DNA and records are compared to their parents and traced back to foundation stock.  This is how we identify pony “family history” and breed accordingly to keep the lines strong and healthy.

What will happen if the Provincial Government gives the Federal Agency control over the pony?

The APA considers the pony as an “evolving” breed, which is defined as a “group of animals in the process of evolving into a new breed. This means they will be creating a NEW breed of Newfoundland pony and will allow other blood into the gene pool.  Along with new blood, there will be new diseases, genetic defects, and elimination of distinct traits, as the pony is changed into a new breed that ultimately suits the market.

The Newfoundland pony is already a distinct breed after evolving over the past 400 years. It is not a man-made, modern commercial breed that people consider what they know a purebred to be.  They are two very different types of breeds, the Newfoundland pony is rare, precious, genetic perfection that evolved in a natural environment.  Modern breeds have their problems, mostly because of poor breeding decisions. We do not want the Newfoundland Pony to go this route.

The Newfoundland Pony has many desirable internal traits that people treasure, such as its strength, courage, intelligence and its sweet, willing, docile temperament.

What can you do to help?

The Newfoundland Pony Society has taken a firm stand against APA inclusion in order to uphold protecting and preserving the pony in its established form. We need the public to help us help the pony. The NPS is asking the public to voice their concerns to Natural Resources Minister, Derrick Dalley at derrickdalley@gov.nl.ca or 709.729.2020. Please consider becoming a member of the NPS. Application forms are available on the NPS website at www.newfoundlandpony.com.

Media Contact:
Libby Carew
Newfoundland Pony Society (Volunteer)
709.725.7627
libby.carew@gmail.com