This evening a 3-person team (Canadian, Swiss and Turkish inspector) from Eyes on Animals and the Animal Welfare Foundation arrived on the Turkish side of the Bulgarian/Turkish border. Since late 2010 the NGO’s have been alerting EU and Turkish authorities of the serious animal-welfare problems occuring at this border – many livestock trucks in violation of the EU animal-protection legislation were being accepted by the Bulgarian authorities, and long-waiting lines sometimes lasting many days, to clear Turkish customs and veterinarian checks. During this time the animals are left on the trucks, with no facilities available to unload them or provide shade.
Teams returned to this border to see if conditions are finally getting better, and to check that officials and transport companies are taking the necessary steps to reduce animal suffering.
Upon arriving at the border, late at night, we observed two livestock trucks waiting on the side of the road in Kapikule (Turkish side of the border) at the small stable where animals get checked. A Bulgarian truck with Slovakian “slaughter” bulls was very dirty, with barely any bedding, and one bull made a poor impression. He was breathing fast and had his head flat down on the floor. The water system was not on, despite the temperature being 28,5 Celcius.
A truck from the company Hunland with lambs also made a negative impression. Loaded on 4 decks, the lambs did not have adequate headspace, some even touching the ceiling with their backs. This impeded the ventilation inside, making the temperature and smell of ammonia inside for the lambs extremely unpleasant. The lambs were panting and desperate for water. The drivers informed us that they had to wait the whole day here for their papers to be cleared. They only unloaded the lambs for one hour at the stable, the rest of the time they left the lambs waiting inside the truck.