ANIMO pig collecting station and Dutch transport company receive warning from AID
In April we made an unannounced visit to a large pig collecting station and observed an employee from the transport company Buurman hit and kick a pig during loading to the point of her collapsing and no longer being able to walk. That same night we sent a complaint about the incident to the Dutch authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture. The very day after, the Dutch authorities called the collecting station to give out a warning, and then sent the AID (official inspectors from the Ministry) to the pig collecting station to inspect the loading and to check that the manager had indeed recorded a warning against this employee in his books. The AID and the transport company agreed that if this employee would act like this one more time, he will no longer be allowed to load pigs at the collecting station and will be fined by the Dutch officials.
Eyes on Animals organizes an Animal Transport Conference with EU government inspectors
In July we organized a conference and invited all the veterinarian inspectors we knew from different Member States. Many we had met while trailing livestock trucks. Aim of the conference was for these international official animal-transport inspectors to get to know one another, to exchange information about problematic international transporters they see in their region, for the experienced to give the less experienced advice on how to check a transport and properly apply the law, and to inspire those with less motivation to finally be motivated in, and proud of, their job.
Veterinarian inspectors from the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Austria were present.
Improvements at VAEX transport company after regular inspections and meetings
Regular trailing of trucks from the company VAEX , checking on the loading of their trucks from the pig collecting station in southern Holland, as well as holding many meetings with the Dutch authorities about VAEX and with them directly resulted in de company contacting us on a regular basis to ask us for our opinion about changes (e.g. new truck ramps). Us keeping an eye on the company also led the company to follow lower loading density codes and strictly monitor fitness of the animals loaded onto their trucks.
Authorities act upon our reports about pig collecting station in Dessel, Belgium
During 5 days of observing a collecting station in Belgium we saw downer pigs, horrible handling and dying and dead pigs. We drew the attention to the authorities and offered the footage and information to a Belgian campaign group to go to the media. Unfortunately the Belgian group did not react, but the Belgian authorities did! In response to our letter of complaint, detailed report and DVD with the footage, the authorities conducted an inspection of the station and wrote to Eyes on Animals that they assured us that the problem had been remedied.
Eyes on Animals starts its police-training program in Belgium!
In April, Eyes on Animals trained 80 Belgian policemen on the EU animal-welfare requirements during transport. Armed with our new training manual and power point presentation we started off with 2.5 hours of theory training. In the afternoon we put theory into practice, stopping livestock trucks on the highway and checking on the animals on board. The police provided us with 3 motorcyclists during the practical training to chase livestock trucks in each direction and bring them to the “control point”. Aim of the trainings were to make policemen more aware of animal welfare and to ensure that the laws to protect animals during transport are enforced.
Training of Belgian policemen inspires Ministry of Agriculture to improve sanctioning system
After we trained 80 Belgian policemen also about the Belgian sanctioning system in case of violations of animal welfare regulations during transport, we were in regular contact with the veterinarian from the Ministry of Agriculture that helped us set up the trainings. At one point, the veterinarian informed us that the trainings made it clear to her and her department that the Belgian sanctioning system was too weak. Police and official veterinarians were never able to hand out a fine on the spot, but only a procés verbale, which hardly ever leads to prosecution if it is related to animal welfare. The Belgian authorities decided to start developing a new sanctioning system that can be dissuasive and effective in practice and used on the spot. Animal transporters clearly breaking the welfare rules, now have to pay for it.
First steps towards a ban on the castration of pigs
Our inspection reports plus intensive lobbying and campaigning by Eyes on Animals and other animal welfare organizations lead to five major Dutch supermarkets, 4 chain restaurants (including McDonalds), 100’s of Dutch pig farmers, 2 large Dutch slaughterhouses and Germany’s largest pig slaughterhouse to stop the castration of male piglets completely. Joined in a taskforce, Eyes on Animals and animal welfare organizations from countries all over the world now pressure other countries to follow the Dutch example.
Film by Eyes on Animals for campaign group Varkens in Nood gets the attention of politicians and journalists in The Hague
Eyes on Animals prepared a film for the Dutch campaign group Varkens in Nood (Pigs in Peril) to use at their public hearing at the parliamentary building (Tweede Kamer) in The Hague. In the film we showed everything from overcrowded pig trucks we had trailed, pigs fighting to the point of bleeding on board stationary vehicles that we inspected late at night, crippled pigs barely able to walk that we filmed being hit and kicked at a Dutch slaughterhouse, Holstein cattle loaded on double deck trucks resulting in back injuries, livestock trucks with broken water systems being approved to export animals and downer animals being dragged out of trucks. The film obviously had an impact, as the Members of Parliament held a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture the next day demanding answers to their concerns. This resulted in stricter rules regarding head space for cattle transported on double deck trucks and tighter supervision on fitness of animals.