Posts Tagged ‘slaughter’

A poor looking horse awaiting his fate whilst a truck full of horses in the background wait to move off

Over the last few months we have been investigating some of the larger horse markets in France. We have invested heavily in surveillance equipment to record the evidence we need to effect the necessary changes. If we do not film or photograph unseen, then we run the risk of losing information. We were noticed photographing the huge sore on the female donkey’s hindquarters (see below), and when we returned to look at her, she had disappeared.

As ERF, our presence at the markets is to assess and report upon:

  • The well-being of the equines offered for sale
  • The conditions for the equines whilst at the markets
  • The handling of equines at the markets
  • The transportation to and from the markets
  • The compliance with EU welfare regulations, in particular Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005

Armed with this information, we then take the appropriate steps to report offences witnessed to the relevent EU bodies.

Our findings to date have been shocking. With a little more common sense applied to the needs of equines, many of the issues we encounter could be avoided. Some would be simple to implement – less overcrowding in the pens could prevent many of the injuries we witness.
There is a clear disregard for many of the EU transport laws – highly unsuitable vehicles used for transportation (two ponies even came out of the boot of a car!), inhumane loading practices, mixing horses and donkeys, entires and mares with all ages and all sizes being crammed so tightly into vans that the doors needed a lot of force just to shut against them.
Several injuries we saw were obviously from the horses being crushed against the ramp, or each other. Eye and lower limb lacerations were commonplace. There was no partitioning in many of the smaller dealers’ vans.
It seems likely that the permitted journey times for the young heavy horses travelling to Italy are being exceeded. The market is at least 8 hours (maximum journey time for unhandled horses) from the Italian border, and many of the trucks originated from regions in the NE of Italy.

Exhausted foals at the markets have only concrete to lie on all day

This coloured mare desperately attempts to escape from the stallion she is sharing a pen with. As she tries to launch over the pen she is halted by the rope she is tied to the railing with

Bad handling and unsuitable transport are to blame for many of the injuries we witnessed

For many this is the beginning of the journey to Italy for slaughter……

We will continue to monitor, report and campaign for equines to be treated humanely within the current EU animal welfare laws. We cannot continue to do this without your help. We need you as our eyes on the ground to report cases to us, and as our financial support. Every little helps, so please consider making a donation to enable to carry on with our welfare work in France.


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Every year, 100,000 horses are transported across Europe for slaughter.
These cruel and barbaric journeys have to be stopped. There is no reason for this live transport to continue when horses can be slaughtered at source and transported as carcasses.
It is totally unneccessary for horses to leave France alive to be slaughtered in other EU countries. In France alone there are 111 abattoirs approved to slaughter horses.

It is extremely urgent we contact our MEPs before the 21st January to ask them to sign the Written Declaration 54/2009.

If more than half of all MEPs sign this before 21st January 2010, we will be one step closer to ending these brutal and hugely inappropriate journeys.

If less than half of the MEPs support the Declaration it will fail, weakening the case for new laws ending the long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter in the European Union.

Please take a few minutes to write to your MEPs so we can end these needless long haul journeys of horses to slaughter. We have downloadable copies of the letter in both French and English.

It’s so simple………in the link below go to your region, find the MEPs for your area, click on the email address, copy and paste the relevant language document from the Word Documents below, sign as yourself, and SEND!

Please do this, your effort could be the difference that changes an opinion, and the future for these horses.

To find your MEP in Europe, go to this LINK, click on your country and then your region.

MEP letter French

MEP letter UK

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From April 2010 the EU will be clamping down on imported US and Canadian horse meat due to concerns over contaminated horse meat.

horse meat

European authorities have already cracked down on horse meat producers within the EU, requiring a passport and microchip ID  system that specifically documents whether a horse has received certain drugs. Owners must state that their horses are intended/not intended for human consumption by using the page on their equines passport marked section IX. Every time an equine receives a drug that is not permitted to enter the human food chain,such as Bute, it must be entered onto this page by the administering Vet.

The new EU rules will require that either slaughtered animals have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances or a undergo a 180 day quarantine period. Canada has said that they will likely abide by the 180 day quarantine, as mandated by the EU.

For years anti- horse meat campaigners in the US have pushed the point that their horsemeat is unsafe for human consumption as there is no passporting system or way of tracking where horses have come from or what chemicals they have been given.

At the moment we are unsure what the impact of this will mean for equines. France imports 85% of its horse meat at present. Most  horse meat on supermarkets shelves in France will be of Argentine, US and Canada origin.

This is a beaurocratic ruling that raises so many more questions than answers;

  • With euthanasia options already so limited for equines in France, will owners of equines (especially older ones) who cannot enter the human food chain because of drugs, be tempted to just abandon their equine?
  • Will equines, such as racehorses and trotters, who frequently enter the human food chain at present be forced to be quarantined for 180 days to be clear of drugs?
  • If  the above happens then this could this mean injured and suffering equines left untreated whilst in quarantine?
  • If  left untreated for 180 days could we see a rise in epidemics like strangles, EIA?
  • What will the US do with an even greater rise in the number of unwanted equines?
  • Will horse meat prices be forced to rise so much so that it will be nonviable to slaughter equines for human consumption? If this happens what will Europe do with all its excess horses e.g from the racing industry?
  • Will there be in increase on the blackmarket for horse meat as witnessed at present in Miami?

Whilst potentially safeguarding the human consumer in the EU, the huge impact this will have on equine welfare has been largely ignored.

Link to Commission regulation 504/2008

US news article on the new rulings

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Yesterday, World Horse Welfare submitted a dossier to the European Commission requesting laws be tightened up that govern the live transport of horses going to slaughter. (more…)

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Last week the Scottish Government agreed to support demands for more enforcement of the European rules regulating the transportation of live horses for slaughter.

“In this day and age there can be no justification for 100,000 horses being inhumanely transported for slaughter each year in intolerable conditions and it is up to politicians at all levels of government to continue to press for action on this issue,” said John Scott MSP, the Scottish Conservatives’ spokesman on rural affairs.

Mr Scott, who had the backing of 40 other MSP’s on this matter, added that he wanted to see the Government take a further step and give its support to an overall strengthening of the regulations. This would include an introduction of short finite journey limits and, ultimately, to support an end to the practice of long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter.

This is clearly a good step forward but it is across the whole of Europe where real progress needs to be made on the tightening up of existing legislations.

Have you given your support yet to this campaign? You can do so by clicking on our campains page here.

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Last week Horse & Hound magazine news editor Abigail Butcher joined up with World Horse Welfare’s Jo White to track the journey of live horses going to slaughter from Poland to Italy, a 1700 mile trek. This journey can often take 4 or 5 days, and with the abolition of border controls this now means it is often a non stop journey of hell across Europe. 

It it always upsetting to watch these images, no matter how many times you see them it doesn’t get any easier, sentiments it seems that are also felt by  other welfare groups. Here at ERF we have witnessed the condition of equines in France that are bound for the slaughter houses, some their conditions considerably worse than those reported by H&H in this report. Part of our work at ERF is monitoring the local sales and reporting our findings to help fight to improve enforcement of the current transport regulations.  We intend as part of our assistance to this to be able to track some of the French horses on their outward travel to slaughter houses across Europe. This is a costly operation and we ask for your support to enable us to do this. As the report shows just a minority of these transporters are abiding by the rules and using the staging posts to rest the horses……what about the others?

Read Abigails online factual diary here…

Day 1 – Central Poland

Day 2 – Zebrzydowice staging post

Day 3 – Hungary/Slovenia border

Day 4 – Slovenia

Day 5 – Italian border 

Their findings and what you can do to help

ERF actively support WHW and WSPA  campaigns on the fight to end long haul live transport….please do something positive towards this today and sign the petition here…

 ‘Make a noise’ campaign petition

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