Animal Aid filmed covertly at the Malik Food Group slaughterhouse near Burnley in Lancashire. This is the 12th slaughterhouse that Animal Aid has filmed, and the 11th found to be breaking animal welfare laws.
What they found there is absolutely shocking.
Malik is a non-stun slaughterhouse which must by law keep knives surgically sharp. But knives were so blunt that sheep had their throats hacked at multiple times.
Others were moved before they had been given time to lose consciousness – another breach of welfare laws.
On three occasions, a worker picked up sheep by their fleeces and threw them, while many other animals endured rough handling. Some were taunted whilst being abused.
Of deep concern is that a worker warned the others when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) vet was approaching.
The FSA is thought to have taken steps to remove one man’s slaughter licence and launched an investigation. It has confirmed that there are ‘serious non-compliances with animal welfare legislation’ and we expect criminal proceedings to follow. One of the company’s directors already has a conviction for animal cruelty.
Please send a message to Defra Minister George Eustice to tell him we urgently need independently-monitored CCTV in all slaughterhouses. If you can personalise the message, it will have a greater impact.
Also in 2014, it was revealed that five large cats — three tigers and two lions — were being kept in tiny cages on a farm in the far northeastern corner of Scotland, even during the Scottish winter. Photos showing the large animals repetitively pacing in their small cages caused uproar, highlighting the failure of any part of the UK to pass legislation banning the use of wild animals for public display attractions.
Now, Scotland has taken the lead, in a move that has been welcomed by animal welfare charities.
“By their very nature, traveling circuses cannot provide animals with the exercise or facilities they need. Animals in circuses are severely restricted in every aspect of their lives — small spaces, barren environments; their life is one of boredom and frustration, often punctuated by abuse. They spend almost their entire lives on the road, moving from one makeshift encampment to another,” Devon Prosser from Animal Defenders Internationaltold Sputnik.
“Once a circus animal is broken, it’ll probably spend the rest of its life performing more or less the same routine. The public don’t get to see the animals in training, but only in rehearsal when they are performing the same tricks they may have done for five, ten or more years.”
Calling the practice of wild animals being forced to perform for the public, “a Victorian anachronism,” Mr. Prosser called for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland’s example.
“We hope that England and Wales will follow suit with Scotland. The government announced in 2012 its intent to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in England, with legislation drafted the following year and manifesto commitment made last year.
“Although a timetable for bringing in the new law has yet to be announced the government has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to legislate. Wales has also stated its intention to take action on the issue but again no timetable has yet been announced for legislation to be passed.”
Wild animals that are currently licensed for use in England include: camels, foxes, macaws, raccoons, reindeer, and zebra.
Worldwide, there are currently 30 countries which have some sort of ban on the practice.
Mr. Prosser said that animal rights activists see more countries following suit, thanks to the success of non-wild animal circus entertainment.
“In 2006, 20 circuses toured with around 100 wild animals including 19 elephants and 38 lions & tigers. Today there are only two circuses with 17 wild animals.
“The sharp decline in animal circuses has been matched by an increase in animal-free circuses. As shown by their huge popularity, shows like Cirque du Soleil are far more entertaining than animals performing pointless tricks.”
A wild animal ban is also supported by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe who have urged nations to:
“Prohibit the use of wild mammals in travelling circuses across Europe since there is by no means the possibility that their physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.”
As you all are aware, the UK narrowly voted to leave the European Union in June.
The RSPCA remained neutral during the EU referendum, but we can now campaign to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised as part of the process to leave the EU, and ensure opportunities are taken to improve existing policies and standards.
There are many unknowns to be sorted out before the UK can leave the EU; what will be our negotiating position, how long will this take, and when will we know what animal welfare laws are being kept and what ones consigned to the dustbin?
One thing that is certain is that the RSPCA will be there fighting for the protection of all present European legislation on animals, and using every opportunity to get laws passed that are even better than the ones we have now.
We will produce detailed briefings in due course, but want to reassure you that we are paying very close attention to this issue and will summarise what we know at present.
Firstly the good news
All the laws that are set at the national level, by the Governments and Parliaments in the UK, will not be touched.
These include our Animal Welfare Act which is the framework law for animal cruelty in England and Wales. We spend the majority of our time and money enforcing this legislation, through our 340 inspectors.
Our aim; protecting and rescuinganimals from suffering, rehabilitatingthem through our 50 centres and clinics and then finding them forever homes, will not change. Specific laws on companion animal welfare (by this we mean domesticated animals and pets) under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 will continue.
Restrictions on the tail docking of dogs
The ban on the use of shock collars in Wales
Licensing of horse riding establishments
The raft of legislation the UK Government is now considering on the breeding, boarding and selling of dogs
The selling of all animals in England
Sentencing is also not part of the EU so will not be impacted. Other areas not affected include the hunting of wild animals with dogs (the Hunting Act 2004 in England and Wales), the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses, and the ban on fur farming.
How many animal welfare laws come from the EU?
Around 80% of UK animal welfare legislation originates from the EU with some 44 different laws agreed over the past 42 years.
The largest number cover farm animalswith 17 EU laws setting standards on the way farm animals are reared and produced, transported and slaughtered. There is also legislation covering consumer information such as labelling the origin of eggs and meat products.
The eleven laws covering wildlife fall into two areas – those that are part of international treaties and those that are not. The former are likely to be better protected as we are members already of those treaties. The latter include laws prohibiting the import of wild caught birds and seal skins and the keeping of animals in zoos. These laws could be more vulnerable.
The use of animals in research is regulated by nine different laws covering the breeding, care and use of animals for scientific purposes; the transport of animals; the use of animals to test chemicals, biocides or plant protection products; the prohibition of the testing, marketing and import of cosmetics products testing on animals; and the cloning of animals eg. for food.
Companion animals are the least regulated. Four laws provide rules allowing free commercial and non-commercial movement of dogs and cats provided they have been identified and vaccinated. There is also an import ban on products made from dog and cat fur.
So how many laws are covered?
Thirteen of these EU laws are in the form of ‘directives’, which have already been implemented into existing UK legislation and so would need to be overturned if they are no longer required. 31 are ‘regulations and decisions’, which are applicable to the UK without national implementation. This means that depending on how the UK exits the EU, they may be automatically deleted on UK withdrawal unless Parliament legislates for them to remain. Alternatively, all pre-existing laws will simply be carried over for amendment on a piecemeal basis.
However, there are real opportunities to improve animal welfare. Last year British farmers received nearly €3.5 billion in subsidies from Europe. We can now decide how these subsidies will be spent and if they should be used to fund, for instance, animal welfare assurance schemes or farming at higher standards. There is an opportunity for the devolved administrations of the UK to do this.
There are also opportunities for the UK to agree higher standards such as mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses or prohibiting the slaughter of farm animals without stunning.
Much still remains to be agreed. But we have already started the process of giving our recommendations to the UK government and we hope that you will join us so that, together, we can ensure nothing gets left behind and we can improve the standards we already have.
Campaigners want tougher penalties for dog fighting, amid concerns about its prevalence on Britain’s streets among young people using dogs for protection and to uphold their status.
The League Against Cruel Sports says undercover investigators were offered dogs that could be trained to fight.
It is also calling for a register of banned owners and a review of England and Wales’s Dangerous Dogs Act.
The act can be used against owners of any out-of-control dog, ministers say.
But the League argues that the legislation targets particular types of dog, rather than poor behaviour by their owners.
It wants to see the law reformed, and a specific offence of dog fighting introduced with a minimum three year custodial sentence. It is currently banned under wider animal fighting laws.
A report by the League said dog fighting had moved from organised confrontations in purpose-built pits, to so-called “rolls” in which dogs on chains fight on behalf of their owners. They are often young men keen to uphold their reputation on the street, it said.
It focused on Bedfordshire, which the charity said was representative of the problem in towns and cities.
According to the League, local people said dogs had been trained to fight in one park in Luton by hanging them from trees with their jaws to improve strength. There were also reports of fights taking place in other locations.
Undercover investigators met a dog breeder wearing a face mask who offered Pit Bull puppies – a banned breed in the UK.
He also offered young dogs of the Bully Kutta breed – a fighting dog from Pakistan, although not a banned breed.
He said that for £1,000 he was prepared to supply dogs suitable for “protection”. The Bully Kutta, he said, could be used for fighting.
The League’s chief executive, Eduardo Goncalves, said the problem went beyond dogs simply fighting by chance in the street.
“This is planned, it is organised, it is deliberate,” he said.
Dogs were trained to fight on treadmills, and in harnesses, with “bait” dogs used as opponents, he added.
The League showed the BBC a Staffordshire terrier, called Cupcake, which showed signs of having been used in training.
The animal’s teeth had been filed back to prevent it damaging its opponent. She also had scars around the neck, and an injured eye.
“Kay”, who rehabilitates abandoned dogs and is looking after Cupcake, said she was furious at those responsible.
“To victimise and torture a vulnerable creature to try to create a status or an image they want to be proud of is pretty despicable,” she said.
“Man up – if you have a lust for fighting go out and fight yourself.”
“Kay” is using a pseudonym because she is concerned the dog’s former owner will track it down.
Animal fighting, including dog fighting, is currently banned in the UK under theAnimal Welfare Act, with a maximum sentence of 51 weeks in prison. People can also be fined or banned from owning pets under the act.
But an analysis of court reports by criminologists at Middlesex University last year suggested there had been fewer than 40 successful convictions linked to dog fighting under the current laws between 2008 and 2014.
Those using banned dog breeds to fight can be prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act. It came into force in 1991, and bans four different breeds in England and Wales – the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.
Owners of banned breeds, or dogs which injure or kill a person, will face tougher punishments in England and Wales from July, under new sentencing guidelines. Scotland and Northern Ireland have a system of dog control notices.
The Department of Food and Rural Affairs said: “Any dog can become dangerous if it is kept by irresponsible owners in the wrong environment which is why the [Dangerous Dogs] Act covers any type of dog that is dangerously out of control.”
The ferry operator Stena Line is to crack down on illegal puppy dealers found to be using its Belfast to Cairnryan service.
News of the move follows a BBC investigation which highlighted how the route was being used to traffic puppy-farmed dogs into Scotland.
Britain’s Puppy Dealers Exposed covertly-filmed handovers of puppies to a group of Scottish dog dealers.
The animals had been sourced from a puppy farm in Northern Ireland.
The BBC Panorama team also found evidence of dogs shipped from puppy farms in the Irish Republic which were then sold by online sellers as animals bred in Scotland.
Stena Line is working alongside Scottish SPCA investigators at the Cairnryan port as part of a multi-agency approach to target the dealers.
Under the operation – codenamed Delphin – Scottish SPCA investigators are using new powers to stop and search the vehicles of those it suspects of illegally trafficking puppies.
Anyone found to be illegally shipping dogs to the UK mainland will be stopped from travelling further and turned back to Belfast.
Those who refuse to go back face being prosecuted and having their puppies seized.
Stena said it was keen to ban illegal puppy dealers from using its service but such a move would require a change in legislation.
Diane Poole, a spokeswoman for the ferry operator, said: “Stena Line totally condemns the illegal trafficking of puppies and works hard to stamp out the practice by carrying out a number of checks to ensure the safe and comfortable transportation of pets.
“However, ultimately the legal enforcement of this responsibility lies with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development [Dard] in Northern Ireland and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [Defra] in the rest of the UK.
“Stena Line has a close working relationship with both Dard and Defra and is working on a number of collaborative measures with the authorities to help eradicate this illegal practice.”
She added: “Stena is determined to take action where it can and to send the clear message that illegal puppy dealers are not welcome on our services.”
A spokesman for the Scottish SPCA, which is leading Operation Delphin, said: “The puppy trade is a huge business and it is unacceptable that puppies are coming in to the UK via Scotland. Our new initiative will mean that dealers will no longer be able to use Cairnryan.”
While figures do not exist on the number of puppies trafficked into Cairnryan, it is believed that as many as 40,000 are being farmed and trafficked into the UK from Ireland each year.
The Scottish SPCA spokesman added: “It’s a huge problem. Ireland is the warehouse and the gateway – unfortunately – is often through the port of Belfast, then into Scotland and onto the rest of the UK.”
The BBC investigation tracked the puppy supply chain from source to sale, filming the conditions inside puppy farms filled with dogs bound for the UK market.
The programme also revealed the existence of so-called “show-bitches” – adult female dogs that were being provided by puppy farmers in Ireland along with litters of pups.
The bitch would then be passed off by unscrupulous Scottish puppy sellers as their own family pet.
It has led to wider calls for a clampdown on the puppy trade.
The objective of the Concordat, which is supported by Professor Sir Mark Walport, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, is to increase awareness and understanding among the general public about the use of animals in science where no alternatives exist.
APHA’s science is aimed at protecting Great Britain from the threat and impact of a wide variety of animal and wildlife diseases and issues including bovine TB, food-borne bacteria and antimicrobial resistance, many of which can also affect humans. This work provides scientific evidence that supports policy development for the government, European Union and internationally.
Signatories to the Concordat undertake to fulfil 4 commitments:
We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.
APHA’s main areas of research include:
bovine TB and development of vaccines and diagnostic tests for badgers and cattle
bacterial diseases and food safety, including food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Escherichia coli and bacterial pathogens such as Brucella and Mycoplasma
viral diseases including avian and mammalian viruses such as Newcastle disease, influenza and classical swine fever, zoonotic and wildlife viruses such as rabies and vector-borne diseases
transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)
wildlife management including wildlife diseases, human-wildlife conflicts and studies of welfare and behaviour.