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Fight to end cruel live animal trade

11 February 2008

NZ hailed as a leader in fight to end cruel live animal trade

New Zealand is highlighted as an example for other countries to follow in a global campaign launched today to end the cruel and unnecessary long distance transport of animals.

Undercover footage filmed over two years by a global coalition of animal welfare groups reveals the brutality of transporting animals long distances simply to be slaughtered at the journey's end. It concentrates on four of the worst routes involving sheep from Australia to the Middle East, cattle from Brazil to Lebanon, horses from Spain to Italy and pigs from Canada to Hawaii.

Programmes manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Bridget Vercoe, said the cruelty these animals endured was completely unacceptable in the 21st century.

The transport of chilled and frozen meat has been going on for more than 125 years, but millions of cattle, pigs, horses and sheep still suffered and died while being transported unnecessarily long distances each year just to be slaughtered on arrival.

In 2006, Australia, the world's largest exporter of sheep for slaughter exported more than four million sheep to the Middle East. Almost 37,000 of these animals died during the gruelling land and sea journeys from pneumonia, salmonellosis and starvation.

For sheep that survived the journey, a much crueller fate awaited them in the hands of countries that had no animal welfare laws.

"Despite Australian industry claims that it is helping improve welfare standards in the Middle East, it is common for sheep to be horrendously handled and slaughtered in ways that would not be legal nor tolerated within Australia or New Zealand," said Ms Vercoe

The WSPA is urging the Australian Government to follow the New Zealand Government's lead and work towards replacing its inhumane live animal trade with chilled and frozen meat exports.

Late last year, the New Zealand Government banned live animal exports for slaughter unless the risks to New Zealand's trade reputation could be adequately managed.

Although not a blanket ban, the new Customs Exports Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for animals to be exported to countries, like many of those in the Middle East, which did not meet relevant World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Guidelines.

Ms Vercoe said the WSPA appreciated the New Zealand Government's decision to tighten controls on this cruel trade.

"This forward thinking new legal requirement once again places New Zealand as a leader in the animal welfare arena and takes it a step closer to a complete ban in the future. The long distance transport of live animals for slaughter was cruel and unnecessary and should stop," she said.

* The animal welfare organisations working on the Handle with Care campaign include the WSPA, Compassion in World Farming, Humane Society International, RSPCA and Animals Australia. * In Australia, the coalition is calling on the Australian Government to urgently end the live export of animals for slaughter, and to work to expand the current trade in chilled and frozen meat from animals that have been humanely transported and slaughtered in Australia.

* More information about the Handle With Care coalition and campaign is available at www.handlewithcare.tv

* New Zealand's Customs Exports Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order explicitly prohibits all exports of livestock for slaughter unless approval is obtained on a specific case-by-case basis direct from the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). Factors the Director General may take into account when considering exemptions, include making sure the importing country meets relevant OIE guidelines relating to the slaughter, unloading, post-journey handling and transport of livestock.

Exporters will also, in accordance with the requirements of New Zealand's Animal Welfare Act 1999, need to satisfy the Director General as to the conditions for international transport of livestock up until the point of disembarkation.

Where livestock are being transported by sea there maybe a requirement that a MAF-accredited veterinarian accompany the shipment, experienced stockmen are on board and provision is made for rapid disembarkation and, if required, quarantine.


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