According to a recent OneKind news bulletin, the Scottish Government has announced that it’s going to launch a consultation on compulsory CCTV in Scottish slaughterhouses as part of its Programme for Government for the year ahead.
The consultation could go either way, and no doubt the industry will lobby for the easiest rules possible. That means it falls on us to keep on building the pressure and demonstrating the huge public support for CCTV in all parts of all slaughterhouses and independent monitoring
The Captive Animals’ Protection Society, along with campaign partners, have welcomed publication of the Scottish Government Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland, along with proposals to review performing animal regulations.
The Bill covers all non-domesticated animals travelling and performing in circuses, and any form of display or exhibition in static premises such as winter quarters.
A Scottish Government consultation in 2014 produced an overwhelming response in favour of banning wild animal circuses in Scotland. Out of 2,043 responses, 98% thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned; and 96.4% thought the use of wild animals for exhibition (without performing) in travelling circuses should be banned. Both aspects are covered in the Bill.
The most recent Scottish poll, carried out for the More for Scotland’s Animals coalition in March 2016, found that 75% of those polled supported an end to the use of wild animals in circuses, rising to 78% in the 18-24 age group.
The ban will be made on ethical grounds reflecting respect for animals and their natural behaviours. The same approach was taken when the Scottish Parliament banned fur farming in 2002.
Nicola O’Brien, Campaigns Director with the Captive Animals’ Protection Society commented:
“With 98% of consultation respondents stating wild animals in circuses should be banned, we applaud the Scottish Government for listening to the public by making this historic decision. Scotland has not only taken action to protect animals within its borders but also paved the way for the rest of the UK to follow. A joined-up approach across the union is needed to ensure wild animals are truly free from exploitation in circuses.”
The Scottish Government seeks to achieve early passage of the Bill in order to establish that wild animal circuses are not welcome or permitted in Scotland. Until the legislation is in place there is a risk travelling circuses could bring wild animals to Scotland.
The call to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland gained overwhelming public support following an outcry as Thomas Chipperfield brought two lions and three tigers to overwinter at a farm near Fraserburgh in 2014.
Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and OneKind are urging Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to support the Bill when it comes before them. A ban on wild animal circuses featured in the manifestos of the SNP, Scottish Labour and Scottish Green parties for the 2016 election and the issue is widely regarded as unfinished business.
Once passed, the legislation will be the first outright ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK, joining 18 European countries, and 35 around the world, with restrictions in place – and more in the pipeline.
The animal protection groups have concerns about other forms of entertainment using animals, such as reindeer displays, bird of prey exhibitions in shopping centres, and mobile zoos and animal handling parties. The organisations have welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government today to address these activities and are calling for this review to progress in parallel with the circus bill.
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.
The number of animal cruelty investigations by the RSPCA jumped by nearly 5% last year to more than 400 a day, according to figures released by the animal welfare charity.
In its annual prosecutions report the RSPCA said it had investigated almost 150,000 cases in 2016. Calls to its 24-hour cruelty hotline rose by nearly 4%, averaging one every 27 seconds.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA inspectorate, said he thought that rather than the figures representing a rise in cruelty they suggested that more people were sharing abuse images on social media, leading to more investigations.
He said: “I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming more cruel, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering. People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.”
A total of 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the RSPCA in 2016, including the case of Reo, a nine-year-old German shepherd who was whimpering in agony when she was found, suffering from open wounds on her ears, jaw and eye. Her owner was banned from keeping animals for life after being prosecuted by the RSPCA. The charity said the dog was now thriving in her new home.
Other cases highlighted in the RSPCA report include:
A bulldog repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped upon and headbutted;
A royal python and boa constrictor which were both decapitated with a pair of scissors;
A shih-tzu dog repeatedly stabbed in the face and neck with a kitchen knife before being left to die in broad daylight;
Badgers dug out of a sett and a waiting pack of dogs encouraged to attack them as their ordeal was filmed on a mobile phone;
A golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen, surrounded by broken glass and empty tin cans.
Murphy said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate. It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals. But equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.”
The majority of complaints received by the RSPCA were about the welfare of dogs (84,994), followed by cats (36,156) and equines (19,530).
The highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,812), West Yorkshire (7,920) and Greater Manchester (7,708).
Murphy said: “People might see these figures as a negative, and I certainly take no satisfaction from knowing that any animal has suffered. What I do take pride in is knowing that because of the RSPCA’s intervention we have prevented many more animals from suffering at the hands of those whom we have successfully investigated and brought before the courts.”
And people who refuse to eat meat on moral grounds but do eat fish – as well as people who keep fish as pets – should bear that in mind, Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the RSPCA’s research animals department, told The Independent.
The researchers discovered that being in a group gives zebrafish a kind of “social buffering” so they are less afraid when confronted by danger.
And this effect was associated with a distinct pattern of brain activation known to be involved in social buffering in mammals, they added.
Because of this similar mechanism, the scientists hope zebrafish can now be used as a model to study social effects on human health with suggestions that isolation can have a significant impact on conditions such as depression.
But Dr Hawkins said the study also added to the growing body of evidence that fish should not be viewed as lesser animals.
“I think if you are going to think it’s okay to eat any animal, then you have to realise what you are doing,” she said.
“You are causing the death of an animal who is sentient, who has experiences, interests.”
She said the RSPCA did not advocate vegetarianism but operated a “welfare friendly” labelling scheme for meat and fish.
“If you do choose to eat meat and fish do just be aware of what you are buying into and make sure you go for higher welfare labels and not just the cheapest,” she said.
Asked if she thought fish could form friendships, Dr Hawkins said: “It depends how you define friendship. It’s not going to be analogous to human friendship.
“But if you think of friendship in terms of being with another individual who you are familiar with and whose company you seek and who makes you feel positive emotions, then these are fish friendships.
“It would be a good thing if these kinds of results were used, not only to improve the lives of laboratory fish, but also for people who keep fish in fish tanks to think about what they are doing when they mix unfamiliar fish together or when they split groups of fish up.
“They are not just ornaments or play things for people, they are individuals, they are sentient.
“There’s quite a lot of research going on into fish personalities. Some fish are bold, some are shy, there’s a whole lot more going on in the fish tank than people than people thought previously.”
However she also criticised the study, saying the anaesthetic used on the fish before they were killed had been “shown to be very irritating for them”.
“They will work quite hard to get out of it. There are other anaesthetics that don’t have this effect,” Dr Hawkins said.
She said it was a “a bit of a tragic conflict” that the evidence “to make people sit up and think” about fish had come from a study that involved animal suffering.
“The price these individuals paid in order to find this out was pretty high,” Dr Hawkins said.
If they were alone, they displayed signs of greater fear, but when they were with other zebrafish they responded more calmly. They were then killed to allow their brains to be examined.
Professor Rui Oliveira, of the ISPA university in Lisbon, who led the study, said what made it significant was the discovery that zebrafish shared a similar social buffering process in the brain with humans and mammals.
Asked about whether it should change people perceptions of fish, he said: “What this study shows is certainly they change the way they perceive their environment when others are present, which suggests they might be cognitively more complex than we originally thought.
“Maybe because of that people will become more aware of their needs and welfare issues. I think if it helps, it’s great.
“There are all the myths about fish have a memory of five seconds, like in [the film Finding] Nemo, that’s obviously not the case.”
On Dr Hawkins’ complaint about the way the zebrafish were killed, he said the anaesthetic used was part of the official protocol and he was unaware of a better alternative.
His colleague, Dr Ana Faustino, stressed the zebrafish’s social support process “does not have the complexity of the social support verified in humans”.
But she added: “Research in zebrafish will allow us to explore in depth the neural mechanisms involved in this social behaviour, which is paramount to the well-being and mental health of the human species, particularly due to its relevance to certain psychological diseases such as depression.”
We are investigating after a cat and her eight kittens were found abandoned inside a zipped-up suitcase on a disused railway line in Essex.
The black and white cat, now named Tarini, and her five week-old babies were discovered by a passing dog walker in a remote spot between Great Yeldham and Castle Hedingham in Halstead, Essex on Tuesday, 7 March. They were inside a navy blue case with a Polo logo.
We were called and rescued Tarini and her kittens, after the passer by picked up the case and took them home for safety.
It was pure chance they were found
RSPCA Animal Collections Officer (ACO) Donna Smith said:
It was pure chance that this woman happened to find these little kittens and their mum.
She was walking along the disused rail track when she wandered past a dumped suitcase, not thinking anything of it until her dog stopped and started sniffing it.
She took a closer look and heard tiny miaows coming from the case, so opened the zip a tiny bit – and was shocked to discover nine pairs of eyes peering back.
The mother cat and eight kittens had been just zipped up in the case and discarded. Who knows how long they had been there – it must have been terrifying for them. It would not have ended well had this kindly woman not come to their rescue – I have no doubt they would have suffered for days.
Tarini is recovering well with her kittens
We’re urging anyone with any information about how the cats came to be in such a secluded spot to call us, in complete confidence, on 0300 123 8018.
The cats are now in our care. They were all very thin, and looked to not have had much food for a while. Tarini had to be put on a drip, and received intensive care at the vets as she was also very dehydrated. She’s since recovered well and is back at an Essex centre with her kittens.
The kittens have all been named after characters from Disney film The Aristocats: