Export of Live Animals for Slaughter
As a nation which prides itself on animal welfare and respect for animals, how do we reconcile that self-image with the export of live animals for slaughter? These wretched animals suffer the stress and indignity of markets, handling, driving/herding and transport without food, water or rest, for incredible distances, in lorries that are subject to extremes of climate. For what? To be killed at their destination. Journey’s end for some may be as far away as Italy or Greece. Some (thousands) even travel for the dreaded annual religious/ritual (and illegal) slaughter in fields around Paris. Horses, ponies and donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats are the main victims. It is sadly true that, for many, minimum regulations are not even observed or enforced.
What perversity dictates that animals must endure this depredation, degradation and suffering, rather than be slaughtered in the UK and transported in chilled lorries to their destination? Who gains from such an apparently illogical and certainly inhumane activity (for there must be profit in it for someone, for it to continue to happen)? These animals appear to be worth more ‘on the hoof' than they are as carcases, despite the extra costs of transportation, veterinary inspections, privations, stress, inevitable weight loss and deaths.
This trade, as far as ruminants are concerned, was stopped in its tracks by the ghastly Foot & Mouth outbreak, in 2001. One dared to hope that it would not restart but, regrettably and to our eternal shame, it has.
Another opportunity to close down this iniquitous trade has been presented by the Buckinghamshire horse and donkey welfare case (January 2008).