WASHINGTON, DC (January 7, 2004) On Thursday, January 8th, at 12:00 p.m., demonstrators organized by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) staged a one-hour protest outside the Embassy of Ireland at 2234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, and delivered a letter to Ambassador Fahey urging Ireland, as new holder of the European Union (EU) Presidency, to lead the way in ensuring new, humane rules on animal transport including an 8 hour total journey limit for cows and other livestock traveling to slaughter or for further fattening.
Each year roughly three million live animals cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses are transported insufferably long distances across Europe. The sheer length of the journeys results in stress. AWI's Wendy Swann notes, "Transporting live animals long distances undoubtedly causes immense suffering. The animal welfare problems associated with the trade can only be alleviated with drastic changes in the length of time and conditions under which these sentient creatures are shipped."
From Ireland, thousands of young calves are taken by sea and road to the Netherlands for veal production; thousands of older calves are transported also by sea and road to Spain and Italy mostly for slaughter, and in 2003, over 138,000 cattle and calves were transported to Europe and over 35,000 cattle were shipped to Lebanon. Ireland, who took over the Presidency of the EU on January 1 st , has opposed all proposals to restrict journey length intended to reduce animal suffering, although nine EU countries have supported such a move.
"Ireland should not contradict the wishes of most EU countries for modest improvements in the transport conditions for livestock from the EU" Swann asserts. "In the summer, animals transported in livestock trucks often suffer from the effects of extreme heat and dehydration and some die. During long journeys it is also inevitable that animals will become injured. Ireland must stand up and support these long-needed changes to EU transport regulations."
Joyce D'Silva, Compassion in World Farming's (CIWF) Chief Executive adds; "As an Irish woman myself, I feel such shame that the Irish government opposes radical reform of this appalling trade in animal suffering. At the moment, lambs can be taken from Aberdeen to Athens just to be slaughtered on arrival. A trade in chilled meat is such an obvious and kinder alternative. CIWF's call for change is receiving global support. It's time for the Irish government and all governments to listen to public concern on this issue."
CIWF and AWI call for adoption of an 8 hour journey limit, a position that has received widespread support from the European Parliament, the Agriculture Council, and the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- A media briefing covering the live transport of animals is available from AWI
- Problems are exacerbated by lack of law enforcement. For example, the European Commission carried out a series of investigations in EU countries and found that drivers, including those carrying animals from Ireland, frequently did not stop to rest the animals as required by law.
- With regard to shipments to the Middle East, once animals are unloaded into a non-EU country, there is no longer any control over their welfare. Investigations by CIWF and the German animal welfare group, Animals' Angels, have shown that EU cattle (including animals from Ireland) are brutally handled and inhumanely slaughtered in Lebanon.
- In November 2001 the European Parliament adopted the Maat report which calls for a maximum overall limit of 8 hours or 500 km. on journeys to slaughter or for further fattening. In September 2002 at an Agriculture Council discussion, 9 of the EU Member States said they want an 8-hour limit.
- In March 2002, a major report by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) concluded that welfare tends to get worse as journey length increases and so "journeys should be as short as possible".
- For betacam or VHS copies of video, further information or photographs contact CIWF's press office on +44 (0)1730 233 904 or +44 (0) 7771 926 005 (mobile). Out of office hours call +44 (0) 7771 926 005.