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In an emergency the majority of horse owners know the number of their vet but how many of them know the number of their local purveyor of fallen stock? Outside of the industry little is known, by the public at large, as to how this service actually works, so let me introduce you to our company.

Holts is a family run business, based in the village of Stanstead Abbotts in Hertfordshire. The company was founded in 1908 and has been at its present location since 1980. It is run by partners Alan and Jackie Waller and their two sons Matthew and Daniel and family friend Martin.                                                    

The job goes hand-in-glove alongside agricultural and veterinary industries. Most farmers and horse owners call us direct to administer pistol euthanasia to their animals. We also liaise very closely with many veterinary practices. We run a 24-hour, 7-day week emergency service and are often called out day or night by the police, to attend Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs), or the RSPCA for an emergency case and many councils and charities. On average we have to deal with over 800 horses and ponies a year plus many more cattle, sheep, pigs, etc.                                                          

In the past the majority of our work involved farm animals, mostly cattle, but with the advent of BSE and the outbreak of foot & mouth disease the cattle industry has been in decline. This gave us, at Holts, the opportunity to expand our operation and several years ago we set up a cremation service giving horse owners a much wider choice when the time comes to part company with a much loved pet. This service has proved to be very popular with many of our customers.

We now also offer a small animal cremation service which is proving very successful with our local vets and repeat business clients.

Congratulations to Alan on reaching 65 years old. Alan started work over 50 years ago. As a boy Alan grew up with a passion and affection for nature. Every spare moment he spent out shooting, fishing, rearing game, selling eggs etc. alongside his paper round. His interests led him to his working life just up the road from where he lived in London Colney. This began when he was aged 13/14 while he was still at school. Two years later Alan was able to leave school which he did as soon as possible, thinking of being either a gunsmith or gamekeeper he chose a full time slaughterman and worked for the “Holts” family.

In 1980 “Holts” the company moved to Stanstead Abbotts where he lived on site and still does. In 1998 Alec Holt died. A meeting was taken to decide whether to close the company or to carry on. Alan, his wife Jackie and his brother Keith decided, after talking to long serving vets, greyhound trainers, zoos, farmers and local authorities that they would carry on but kept the name “Holts” as it was so long established and liked.

They had already started but then pushed the company in a different direction. Partly due to foot and mouth in farming in 1967, 2001 and 2008 the change was away from farming and into pets, mostly horses, then cats and dogs at a later date.

With personal investment and a slight change of staff the company has stuck to its family run values. First of all, the welfare of animals comes first, i.e. 24 hour emergency service if needed. Private animal cremations and supplying specialist pet food to zoos etc.

Alan has worked long, unsociable hours for nearly half of the company’s 108 year history and is now retiring – luckily he is only going part time instead of full retirement.

The industry will soon be losing one of its highest long standing professionals, who has put down countless thousands of animals from tiny to very large. He has taught dozens of vets how to put an array of animals to sleep with different guns, in different situations. He has worked with the police, RSPCA, Environmental Health, colleges, universities, zoos and private owners adhering to very high standards and care for a very long time. These values will be carried forward in the future and hope the company that has been such a success (through mainly Alan) will continue to be going forward.

Congratulations and well done. We all hope you enjoy slowing down.

 

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