Eyes on Animals GoodNewsletter

December 2014

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EU puts ban on import horse meat from Mexico

In March of this year, Eyes on Animals together with Tierschutzbund Zürich, Animal Welfare Foundation, Animals’ Angels USA, GAIA and L214 released a report on the cruel reality behind the import of horsemeat from Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, US and Canada. The report was based on inspections carried out from March 2012 to January 2014 at auctions, transports, collecting stations, export pens, borders, veterinary checkpoints, feedlots and slaughterhouses. These inspections showed that horses bought for slaughter to export their meat to the EU are systematically being neglected, that ill and wounded animals do not receive any medical care and are left to die, that animals are beaten and that they are being held and transported under horrendous conditions. Following the publication of the report, Eyes on Animals and partner organizations called for a EU ban on the import of horse meat from these countries.

The topic got a lot of media attention. In the Netherlands the consumer program Radar dedicated a complete broadcast on the topic in March 2014 (watch broadcast). On Monday December 22nd Eyes on Animals will be on the show again to announce this exciting breakthrough that we helped make happen. As of Monday 22.00 hrs you can watch it online on the Radar website: www.radartv.nl.

Please keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for more good news about this!

The great forest

Efforts to improve animal welfare in Turkish slaughterhouses start to pay off

In the past year, Eyes on Animals has made great efforts to try to improve animal welfare in slaughterhouses in Turkey. We inspected new slaughterhouses and returned to slaughterhouses we had visited before to check whether they had made the improvements we advised them to do. We had meetings with Halal Certification Labelling organizations to discuss the option of stunning the animals before slaughter and to urge them to put pressure on the slaughterhouses that carry their label to improve animal welfare. We gave lectures at the universities of Istanbul and Ankara about animal welfare to veterinary students. This brought us many valuable contacts and made it possible to organize a two-day seminar at the Istanbul faculty of Veterinarian Medicine on ‘How to Reduce Suffering During Slaughter’. The seminar was attended by over a 100 people, many of whom play an important role in the Turkish meat industry. And last but not least: we launched a ‘Halal Slaughter Watch’ website in English and Turkish, to educate, inform and share good practices with those involved in Halal slaughter. For this website we received compliments from Temple Grandin, a well-known professor in animal sciences in the US who also works as a professional livestock facility designer and consultant on livestock behavior, handling and animal welfare.

Improving animal welfare in Turkish slaughterhouses is a project that takes time and patience, but our efforts are already starting to pay off. EonA director and inspector Lesley Moffat would like to highlight the following success:

“Many slaughterhouses in Turkey use trip boxes to make cattle fall down to be able to put a chain around their hind leg and hoist them upside down to make it easier to cut their throat at slaughter. These trip boxes cause major panic and the hoisting that follows is extremely painful for the animals. Two Turkish companies manufacturing slaughterhouse equipment for Halal slaughterhouses in Turkey and throughout the Middle East both sent 3 representatives each to our Seminar in Istanbul to learn how to improve welfare at slaughter. One of these companies we had already convinced to stop producing the trip-floor restraint boxes. They now only sell rotational and upright restrainers, which do not require live-hoisting with chains on a leg. The other company decided to stop producing trip-floor boxes right after our seminar. They said Eyes on Animals convinced them to do things differently and that they will replace their restraint boxes with upright restrainers. They are getting guidance from a Belgian company we put them in contact with, that knows a lot about building proper equipment that keeps stress to a minimum.

This is significant to me because it does not only mean help for animals now, but also in the future. We are preventing that these boxes be sold in the future. We are preventing that they further be installed in slaughterhouses all over the Middle East! And we are "cleaning up and educating" these companies so that their equipment causes less stress and pain. For every slaughterhouse that buys better equipment, it means less suffering for the hundreds of animals killed in each plant each day.”

Dr. Ellen Eser, who did her PhD on animal welfare at Turkish slaughterhouses, gave trainings on animal welfare at transport and slaughter for the BSI Schwarzenbek institute and is now an official veterinarian in Germany, assisted EonA in many inspections. During the seminar in Istanbul she provided the trainings on animal welfare during slaughter. This is how she looks back at the project so far:

“During the inspections Lesley, Asalet and I carried out, sadly I had to recognize that nothing had changed when it comes to the animal welfare situation at the Turkish slaughterhouses since I went there for my PhD research in 2006. But at nearly every slaughterhouse we met people who were really willing to learn and we were able to change at least small things and help the animals at the spot. We talked with the staff and the slaughterhouse owners and vets about animal handling, transport, waiting areas, races, restraint and stunning. We gave practical tips to improve the situation for the animals easy and cheap. Of course, this work is not always easy to handle and sometimes you just want to cry or scream at people. But this way you won’t be able to change anything. So we went on and had our small and big successes. 

The highlight for me was the meeting with the dean of Ankara Veterinary University and of course our seminar at Istanbul Veterinary University. There were so many students, professors, vets, slaughterhouse owners, people from companies who make slaughter equipment like restraint boxes and stunning devices and also stakeholders from Turkey. We were able to spread our knowledge, make important connections and change the view of at least some people. 

I am looking forward to April 2015 when we will visit Turkish slaughterhouses again and organize another seminar on animal welfare during slaughter.”

Best wishes for the holidays!

The Eyes on Animals team wishes everyone happy winter holidays and a great start into the New Year!  

We hope that also in 2015 you will help us improve animal welfare.

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