Horse lovers in the United States are aware of dreadful conditions at Mexican and Canadian horse slaughterhouses. The slaughter problem is even bigger and worse - Here is a story from the United Kingdom that puts the focus on yet another country where documented horse abuse has outraged many.
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, has gone public with a detailed description of horse treatment at one of Britain’s main horse slaughterhouses, the Red Lion Abattoir, Cheshire. Owers referred to Red Lion’s treatment of horses as “disgusting, appalling and totally illegal.”
Substantiating his forceful claim, footage obtained from an investigation by Sky News, aired recently, punctuated his statement.
Owers says, “What we have seen is a complete, systemic failure of the slaughterhouse to comply with UK welfare laws, and of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which should have been enforcing the law - but clearly has not.”
He continues, “We are now calling for all operations at these premises to be suspended until new procedures are put in place and the FSA guarantees the plant will comply with the law. We are also calling for Defra to install and monitor CCTV in all English slaughterhouses to aid enforcement.”
Owers is resolute when he states, “The public and horse owners need to have confidence that slaughter is carried out humanely in Britain. While it may be a sad fact, there is a role for humane slaughter of horses to help prevent them from suffering long and painful deaths due to illness or neglect.”
This summer, new EU regulations are expected to protect the welfare of animals at slaughter.
Sky’s video footage reveals countless abuses and illegal practices. This causes pointless suffering for the horses in the film.
Owers said, “We saw horses being treated appallingly every step of the way – from a poor level of care before slaughter, to slaughter in groups of two or three which is illegal and extremely distressing to such social and intelligent animals, to botched or incomplete stunning that appeared to allow some horses to regain consciousness before they were killed.”
“These practices are disgusting, appalling and totally illegal and they must be stopped immediately,” continues Owers.
Owers suggests that a full investigation into the operations at Red Lion must be conducted. The plant should be closed until new procedures and full compliance with the law can be guaranteed.
Following is just a partial list of violations and inhumane practices caught on film:
- Several horses are “stunned” in the stun box together. The law requires immediate pithing (getting bled) without delay. That cannot happen when multiple horses are shot in groups. Bleeding horses one at a time after stunning results in delays. Some horses regain consciousness and suffer immeasurably as they are then butchered aware and alive.
- Horses see the killing of others. This causes undue distress to horses and is a specific breach of regulation.
- Bleeding of stunned horses was not immediate and frequently was delayed. In many cases, there were lengthy delays.
- Horses were not spared needless anxiety, anguish, suffering and pain. They were not restrained appropriately and there were many botched stuns on the footage.
- No humane care was taken to move horses. Instead the animals were beat and incurred blows from staves and ropes. This is unallowed abuse under the law.
- The holding pens were not to appropriate standards.
- Injured or sick horses were not isolated from the others.
World Horse Welfare has determined that the filmed footage bears witness to “catastrophic breaches of the law, requiring an immediate and complete investigation. It believes that until new procedures and practices can be put into place, that all operations must be suspended. Further, it feels that operational practices can be monitored through the use of CCTV to properly enforce laws.
“I cannot see the public trusting this establishment again until we have CCTV monitoring in place. The FSA has staff on the premises who should have been enforcing the laws that protect these horses, but their efforts have been found seriously wanting,” stated Owers.
World Horse Welfare has released the positive benefits of CCTV cameras:
- Installed where inspectors cannot safely be present (i.e., stun box)
- Is always present 24/7, unlike inspectors
- Cannot be intimidated, again unlike inspectors
- Produce an unbiased and permanent record
- Allow identification of good and bad practices
- Can be used in training for slaughterhouse employees
- Counter accusations. Demonstrate humane practices.
- Permit viewing from other locations, offering great flexibility for the FSA
Defra has indicated in its recent consultation on slaughter regulations that they were not minded to require compulsory CCTV in slaughterhouses at this time but the issue would be kept under review.
Source: Your Horse