Sunday, 1 November 2009

Time to end live animal exports...

The campaign to stop live animal exports from Shoreham Harbour served to glavanize the local animal rights movement, but live exports - with all their inherent cruelty - continue apace.

Today I read that every year millions of Australian sheep are crammed onto ships bound for ports in the Middle East and North Africa. When they arrive, the sheep will be callously dragged to shore as if they were sacks of coal, and then they will have their throats cut whilst they are still conscious.

Picture a gentle sheep on a farm in Australia, the world's largest producer of Merino wool. One day, she is herded onto a crowded truck bound for a ship in a port city hundreds of miles away. For 24 hours or longer, she goes without any food or water. Her stomach aches and her mouth is dry as a bone, and she is constantly jolted and jarred. She is terrified, exhausted from sleep deprivation and stifled by the roasting heat inside the truck – with no idea what will befall her next.

Scared and desperately weak when she arrives at the port, she is herded into a feedlot. The "pellet" food wreaks havoc on her digestive system, causing stomach upset and diarrhoea, making her sicker and weakening her even more.

Eventually, she finds herself roughly herded onto a multi-tiered ship along with thousands of other sheep – strangers, not the family she has known. Because the sheep are packed together so tightly (a miserable three sheep per square metre), she is barely able to move. And that is how she stays for up to three weeks at sea – if she survives the gruelling journey.

The enclosed ship deck becomes as hot as an oven. The amount of urine and faeces on the floor grows every day. In a few days, her lungs and eyes are burning from the ammonia fumes, which are so strong they eventually cause her to lose her vision.

Some sheep on board die from starvation, others from heatstroke. In a bid to contain the diseases that run rampant on the ship, the workers often throw the bodies of the dead and dying into a macerator – a large mincing device – which grinds them up and flushes their remains out to sea.

The next stop for her is the live market, where she is sold to an unskilled slaughterer. In sheer terror, she smells the blood of other sheep all around her and tries to hobble away, but a man throws her to the ground and slashes her throat as she struggles to stay alive.

I'm glad, not for the first time, that I'm not a sheep.

It really is time for an international ban on all live exports.

No comments:

Post a Comment