On the 15th September 2022, Senator Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, released an 8,000 page report that supposedly covers all animal welfare incidents documented by On Plant Veterinarians (OPVs) and/or senior management at Australian red meat export abattoirs, between 1st January 2020 and 31st December 2021.
We must commence our very succinct summary of this report by making it entirely clear that we do not believe, by any means, that there is a way to humanely take the life of someone who does not want to die, aside from true and compassionate euthanasia. But this position should not prevent us from highlighting the realities of the animal slaughter system, a system that consumers are repeatedly lied to about when told animals do not suffer on their way to or at the slaughterhouse. The suffering is a given and applies to every single individual who is forced aboard a slaughterhouse truck. However, this report focuses on the more extreme incidents at export abattoirs and only those that were reported.
Of the 631 individual reports generated, which involved 4,083 animals, 64 were not published due to being under investigation.
There were seven reports published that involved horses (which must be from Meramist slaughterhouse in Caboolture, seeing it’s the only abattoir slaughtering horses). We believe that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, not all incident reports were supplied to Senator Watt – at least not all equine related incidents. The seven reported horse incidents all occurred in the first half of 2020. It seems highly unlikely that there would be seven incidents in six months and then none in the next eighteen months. In fact, we have proof of one incident that occurred in February 2021, this report was not included. One of the reported incidents involved a horse with a leg injury yet the accompanying photos showed a horse with head injuries. The written report for the horse with head injuries was not included. How many more incident reports were not included?
Anyone who happened to see ABC 7:30’s ‘The Final Race’ back in 2019 knows exactly what takes place at the Meramist slaughterhouse. To claim there were only seven equine related animal welfare incidents (beyond what we know to be the standard horrific suffering for every animal who enters that or any other slaughterhouse facility), is, to us, a ludicrous finding.
We also noted that the seventh equine related incident in 2020 was the tenth overall incident for that facility, so seven out of ten reported incidents were horse related. That indicates, that horses are more likely to be injured during transport than bovine, for example.
Of the seven horse reports that were published, none of the horses were identifiable from their photos as all brands were either obscured or not shown in photos. We can say though that –
- two horses had shoulder brands so were most likely thoroughbreds
- one more horse was listed as a thoroughbred
- one more horse was listed as a thoroughbred type
- one horse was listed as a standardbred
- one horse was listed as a brumby
- one is unknown with no breed named and no photos.
The meat industry appears to be patting itself on the back because the incident rate is a small percentage of the 70 million “red meat” animals slaughtered in Australia in two years just for the export market. This is unacceptable. Most of the 4,083 animals that were the subject of these reports suffered horrifically and while some incidents did come from accidents, most were as the result of the abject neglect and indifference of the farmers, the people the industry repeatedly professes care about the animals. Instead, they had allowed them to suffer in excruciating pain before sending them to slaughter. There were some horrifying incidents that involved transporters intentionally inflicting pain on animals and/or being indifferent to the pain the animals were suffering and lastly, abattoir workers putting themselves before the suffering animals and at least one animal that was bled out while still very much conscious. Studies indicate the true figure of such a death would be far greater.
It is obvious that our focus is on horses used in racing, but we are appalled by the suffering of ALL the animals in Senator Watt’s report, suffering which could have and should have been avoidable in the majority of cases, and ultimately, suffering that is all entirely unnecessary.