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Concerns grow over animals buried alive enmass

Concerns grow over animals buried alive in mass graves

International charity the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has received worrying reports from its Asian member societies and other sources about the inhumane ways in which poultry are killed during efforts to deal with the avian flu outbreak.

These reports include chickens often buried alive in mass graves in countries across Asia; in South Korea and Vietnam, tens of thousands have been beaten with iron bars or sticks before being buried; chickens in China have been set on fire whilst still alive and, in Taiwan, chickens have been poisoned and then buried.

Millions of poultry have already been handled and slaughtered with little regard for their welfare. The international bodies responsible for handling this outbreak, FAO (UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation), OIE (World Animal Health Organisation) and WHO (World Health Organisation), have so far neglected to address the issue of animal welfare.

“The slaughter of millions of chickens by burying them alive is an inhumane and totally unacceptable method of slaughter and should be stopped immediately,” says Leah Garces, WSPA’s Head of Campaigns, “ Whilst this problem must be dealt with quickly, and we recognise the practical problems, there is no reason why animals must suffer unnecessarily as a result of this outbreak. More humane slaughter methods are available.”

WSPA is urging the FAO, OIE and WHO to recommend that, whatever the circumstances, animals are dealt with as humanely as possible and that street side slaughter in markets (often called ‘wet markets’) be stopped permanently due to concerns over disease control, hygiene and animal welfare. WSPA has offered to advise in the repopulating of the poultry industry in countries that have been hit by avian flu, since this offers an opportunity to implement principles of good animal welfare and disease control.

Animal welfare and disease will be the focus of an international conference being hosted by the OIE in Paris, France, next week. At the conference, WSPA’s Chief Veterinary Advisor, David Wilkins, will be making representations for improved standards of animal welfare.

Worldwide, billions of animals on industrial farms live in overcrowded and poorly ventilated environments – prime conditions for disease. The repeated outbreaks of animal diseases in Asia in recent years may be linked to the over-expansion of industrial animal agriculture. Through its World Farmwatch campaign, WSPA is calling for effective legislation to stop the expansion of factory farming and encourage humane and sustainable forms of animal agriculture.

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