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article imageDisturbing video: Extreme cruelty revealed in UK abattoir

By Anne Sewell     Jan 19, 2013 in World
Nantwich - The video is part of an undercover investigation which exposes shocking cruelty to horses at a British abattoir. Two slaughter-men have lost their jobs after their abhorrent cruelty was revealed. The RSPCA and Food Standards Agency may prosecute.
The video above is very disturbing and not recommended for those of a sensitive nature. It shows the horses being beaten with metal poles, and also being illegally stunned in groups of three. One really shocking moment shows a stunned horse appearing to regain consciousness, finding itself hanging upside down and about to have its throat cut.
The video footage was captured at the Red Lion Abattoir which is located near Nantwich in Cheshire, UK. Horses are butchered there for European food markets. It took an animal welfare group, Hillside Animal Sanctuary, eight weeks to put the video together. In the process, they saw horses which appeared to be sick or injured and had not yet been put down as well as the most unbelievable cruelty.
Founder of Hillside Animal Sanctuary, Wendy Valentine, 63, told MailOnline: "We rescue around 700 horses a year and we were concerned about where we were saving them from."
Referring to the abattoir, she said, "It's unbelievably depressing there. They shouldn't be stunned or shot in front of each other like that."
"It's total disrespect for animal welfare."
Under the Welfare of Animals Act 1995, horses cannot be slaughtered in sight of another horse as this causes severe distress to the animal. However, in the footage, it can clearly be seen that three horses were crammed into a tiny pen before being stunned.
According to Sky News, a spokesperson for the Red Lion Abattoir apparently said that "it views animal welfare and public health with paramount importance."
In a statement the abattoir said: "In attendance at the The Red Lion Abattoir are three full time Food Standards Officers comprising of an official veterinarian and full-time meat hygiene inspectors throughout production."
The spokesperson for the abattoir said that "the incidents were not the norm, but of an isolated nature and that they have taken disciplinary action against the individual featured."
The statement continued: "I agree horses should individually enter the stunning area and most certainly not three at a time."
"However, small horses and ponies having spent years together as companions are difficult to separate. Horse lovers would understand that."
"My opinion and that of other veterinarians is it is better to keep those types together to reduce the stress, providing swift dispatch is achieved."
A spokesperson for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) says that they are viewing the footage and will then decide whether to prosecute the abattoir.
An RSPCA statement read, "The footage is shocking and upsetting to watch. With the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 in mind, we have concerns that horses appear to be in the stunning pen at the same time rather than individually as the law requires."
"We also have concerns about some of the animals that appear to be injured. We have requested a copy of the unedited footage with a view to investigating."
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revoked the licenses of two slaughter-men after a probe into the video.
FSA head of approvals, Craig Kirby said, "As soon as we got the footage and reviewed it we took immediate action to revoke the slaughter-men's licenses."
“That means they cannot work to slaughter animals again."
"We will also look to gather further evidence to see if we can prosecute," he added.
Ex-Chief Veterinary Officer Keith Meldrum described the situation at the abattoir as “completely unacceptable.”
Head of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers, said: “The breaches, from what we’ve seen, are throughout - from the care of the animals to the slaughter process."
“Horses are intelligent animals. When they see an animal stunned in front of them, you can only imagine the distress that animal is going through."
"There are, without doubt, welfare issues here. It is plain illegal.”
Owers further said that “The public and horse owners need to have confidence that slaughter is carried out humanely in Britain. While it may be a sad fact, there is a role for humane slaughter of horses to help prevent them from suffering long and painful deaths due to illness or neglect.”
Owers pointed out that there is no evidence that other slaughter-houses are acting improperly.
"We believe there is a role for humane slaughter," said Owers. "We have identified 6,000 horses at risk in the country and humane slaughter may eventually be the kindest option for them to save them from a lifetime of neglect and suffering. Homes for horses are in short supply, and we do not want to see horses exported overseas to slaughter where welfare standards may be even lower – that would be an even worse tragedy.”
World Horse Welfare is running a petition about the abuse which can be accessed from their website.
The Horse and Country TV channel says on its website that there has been a significant increase in the number of horses slaughtered in the UK, from 3,859 in 2007 to 8,426 in 2012.
While the Red Lion Abattoir denies that their meat was involved in the recent burger scandal at Tesco and other supermarkets in England and Ireland, it does make one wonder, especially with such a significant increase in horses slaughtered.
More about Britain, United Kingdom, red lion abattoir, Horsemeat, Horse
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