FEBRUARY 13, 2008: A worldwide campaign aimed at banning the long-distance transport of live animals for slaughter has been launched in London.
Animal charity workers shot secret film footage during a two-year long investigation of the global trade in live animals which they say is cruel and unnecessary.The Handle With Care coalition is using shock pictures of animals being shipped around the world in overcrowded and filthy conditions before they are finally slaughtered.They hope consumers will be so horrified by the images of sheep, cattle, horses, pigs and chickens moved in horrendous conditions in journeys that can take weeks they will embarrass governments into finally banning the trade.Rules on minimum standards of care for live animals in transit – including regular feed, water and rest – are frequently flouted. To save on costs animals are also illegally crammed into lorries, containers and ships where they do not have enough room to lie down.And animals are shipped from one side of the world to the other for slaughter so that producers can charge higher prices by fraudulently claiming the meat was locally sourced.The Handle With Care coalition, made up of leading UK-based animal welfare charities the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA and the International League for the Protection of Horses, claims thousands of animals die in transit every day from disease, hunger and stress in overcrowded and filthy conditions.They say human health is also being put at risk because animals being transported can help spread potentially deadly diseases such as bird flu across the world.The coalition says that animals should be reared and then slaughtered at the nearest possible abattoir and the meat frozen before being shipped. “We were determined to show people the truth of this hidden and brutal traffic in animals – if you see it for yourself – you just know it must be stopped.”The campaign says it will focus on four of the worst routes involving animals: Sheep from Australia to the Middle East, cattle from Brazil to Lebanon, horses from Spain to Italy and pigs from Canada to Hawaii.The coalition claims that the technology to freeze meat before it is shipped abroad has been available for more than a century and there is no reason to continue the export of live animals.Compassion in World Farming Chief Executive Philip Lymbery said: ” The cruelty these animals endure is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. This trade is one in which millions of animals suffer cruel and unnecessary journeys each year. It must stop.”Campaigns and demonstrations in the 1990s led to a huge fall in the number of live animals sent for export from the UK. In 1995 2m sheep and lambs and 500,000 calves were exported. By 2007 the numbers had tumbled to 80,000 sheep and lambs and 70,000 calves.The coalition is demanding a stricter enforcement of EU laws governing the live transport of animals and hopes that existing laws will be strengthened when they come up for review in 2009.MORE: www.handlewithcare.tv.uk