Media sources in the UK have today carried shocking images of animal cruelty: horses about to be slaughtered, kept in inhumane conditions and abused. You may say, So what? They are about to be slaughtered. If you do, shame on you.
The horses in question were to be slaughtered before their meat was transported to Europe. Horse meat is not eaten as a rule in the UK. This week the presence of horse meat in the cheap burgers at one supermarket, Tesco, created a scandal and an imminent government inquiry.
Animal slaughter is sadly part of 21st-century life. Unless we all become vegetarians it will remain necessary. If there was no longer a demand to eat meat, animals would have need culling anyway.
Whatever your stance on eating meat, unless you are a moron you will appreciate the need for the animal to meet a "good end." Unlike some countries in Asia that kill dogs in the most cruel fashion, believing the meat will taste better, we are more enlightened. Even if that were the case, few would want to mete out cruelty for an improved dining experience.
This report is a sad one and not for the fainthearted.
Sky News in the UK aired the footage early Saturday. It has been picked up by many media sources. It is not for those with gruesome tastes. It was shown for public awareness.
The slaughterhouse at the center of the allegations is the Red Lion Abattoir, near Nantwich, Cheshire. Sky News launched an undercover investigation after concerns were raised by the Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
Hillside Sactuary does worthy work rescuing animals, providing them with shelter and making the public aware of cruelty when it is found. The animals they help include sheep, pigs, cows and horses. The small team works very hard, but, as with most charities, it is hard for them to make ends meet. It is down to their determination that this news is being made public.
The level of abuse and neglect of horses about to be slaughtered is a disgrace. It includes:
The undercover investigation has led to action. Two slaughter men have been sacked. Two have had their slaughter licences revoked by the Food Standards Agency. It is not clear if it is the same two men.
Under the Welfare of Animals Act 1995, horses cannot be slaughtered in sight of any other horse because it causes them severe distress.
Investigations continue. Prosecutions have not been ruled out. The abattoir's response has been to claim that the incidents were isolated ones and that the appropriate action has been taken.
Meanwhile, UK statistics show horse slaughter is on the increase, with 8,426 put down in 2012, compared with 3,859 in 2007.
This news is shocking. The high number of horses that are "put down" is telling. The horses range from racing breeds to pets to workhorses. No longer is a good horse treated to retirement and put out to pasture. Instead it is slaughtered. That is bad enough. The fact that it is abused, maltreated and more is a disgrace.
There should be no place for such cruelty in the 21st century. Those who perpetrate it deserve a stiff sentence, if found guilty. Without prosecutions and appropriate sentencing, the cruelty will continue.
Look on YouTube and sadly you will this is a global problem.