13 fevereiro 2008

Unnecessary and cruel

Millions of animals are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of meat traders by enduring cruel, drawn-out journeys across the world to be slaughtered on arrival.

Across the world, more than a billion live animals are transported every week, many over long distances. Australia, the world's largest exporter of live animals, sends more than four million live sheep every year to the Middle East. Shipped in cramped, poorly lit dens, the journey takes 32 days. Three sheep are crammed per square metre in the ship's hold, causing many of the animals to die of suffocation before encountering the slaughterhouse weeks later.

Those sheep that do arrive are fattened before being killed in accordance with Halal butchery laws. Eighty per cent of Australia's abattoirs are Halal-certified, raising the question of why they could not be slaughtered in Australia and transported frozen. They are transported in such cramped conditions that many die of suffocation on the way. On arrival, they are killed according to Halal butchery laws.

Many live exports are undertaken to make the fraudulent claim that the animals are home-reared. In Spain, thousands of horses are illegally crammed into lorries for a sweltering 46-hour journey to Italy. Despite EU regulations which should protect the animals on the filmed routes, the horses are denied adequate rest ,food and water, and endure temperatures of up to 40C so that the meat can be marketed as being of "traditional Italian" origin.

Speaking on behalf of the International League for the Protection of Horses, Jo White said: "Long distance transport for slaughter is the biggest single abuse of horses in Europe, with around 100,000 involved in the trade. The ILPH is committed to ending this unnecessary suffering and with the review of EU legislation next year, urges the public to demonstrate its objection to this inhumane trade as a matter or urgency."

Canadian pigs, in conditions just as obscene, are condemned to a 4,500-mile journey by land and sea to Hawaii, so that, when slaughtered, their carcasses can be sold as "Island Produced Pork". For nine days, hundreds of pigs are crammed together in the dark, standing in their own excrement. Exhausted and hungry, they become ill, vomiting from motion sickness and waiting for long periods without food.

From Brazil to Lebanon: Zebu cattle are forced to live in their own excrement during this appalling journey; some of the 2,500 animals on board die on the way from heat stroke or respiratory disease. The rest are killed on arrival.

An undercover Compassion in World Farming investigator tells of seeing zebu cattle arrive in Beirut on a ship from Brazil:

"When I boarded the ship the first thing that hit me was the smell. Even before it had docked you could smell it, a combination of ammonia from the stale excrement, the sweat of the packed cattle, and diesel from the ship.

"I didn't have to look hard to see the effect of this. I saw two cows lying dead as soon as I got on board; the crew had been unable to get them out from among the live animals, who were living virtually on top of their carcasses. I'm not a vet, but it looked like the impact of that journey had been too much for them.

"The crew said there were 2,500 cattle on board, and you had animals falling down that couldn't get up again because they were struggling to find the space to stretch their legs. It was so confined they were constantly pushing against each other, even while the ship was stationary. I dread to think what it would have been like when the ship was moving. It was a very stressful environment; the noise of the engines and the dark made it unbearable for me being down there for just a few hours, but I can't imagine what it was like for the animals on that 17-day journey. In Lebanon, the temperature was in the high 30s, but in the metal hold of a confined ship it was unbearable.

"And at the end of this brutal process, the very reason for their live transportation seemed defunct, as they were slaughtered in front of each other, a practice not considered halal by the experts I consulted.”

"As we stood there filming, all I could think was, 'This is so unnecessary and so cruel'."

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