29 May 2012 Have your say
All of us want to see animals protected from cruelty. Yet in Australia, the largest group of animals in human care — farm animals — see the insides of places most of us would never want to visit: factory farms and slaughterhouses. Sadly, the reality recently uncovered inside NSW slaughterhouses is worse than you might expect.
There's no doubt that public concern for animal welfare in Australia is growing, and with it pressure is mounting on governments to do more for animals. So in February, when Animal Liberation NSW released footage of gross mistreatment of animals inside the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors (in outer-Sydney) which led to cruelty charges, the NSW Food Authority quickly began a review of all domestic slaughterhouses for sheep, cattle, goats and pigs in NSW.
What they found might shock you: The review uncovered animal welfare breaches at every domestic slaughterhouse in NSW, including "incompetency of slaughtering staff"; compromised welfare of animals delivered after business hours; and ineffective stunning — meaning some animals were likely being slaughtered whilst still conscious.
This troubling news comes only a few months after disturbing footage, provided to Animals Australia, forced the permanent closure of the LE Giles abattoir in Gippsland, Victoria.
(While this footage prompted the Victorian government to also conduct a review of animal welfare standards in Victorian slaughterhouses, it has not made the results of that review public.)
Despite a clear failure of the industry to self-regulate, the NSW government's new system again relies largely on more self-regulation, requiring abattoirs to employ an animal welfare officer on site and supply additional training for staff. The NSW Minister for Agriculture has so far rejected animal welfare groups' calls for mandatory CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses. Make your voice heard.
While regulations and standards failed to protect these animals, the reality of factory farms and slaughterhouses is that even when there are no breaches of regulations, whenever animals are handled and slaughtered on mass there will be suffering and fear.
Few of us would want to set foot inside a factory farm or slaughterhouse. Animals aren't given that choice. However, by making informed and compassionate choices we can help protect animals, even when laws and regulations fail them.
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