Where do farm animals end up once they leave the EU?

Three million animals a year are exported live from the EU to non-EU countries. As soon as they leave European Union borders they are no longer protected by European law. They’re on their own out there.

Cow tied down in street

At the end of 2013 we released evidence showing appalling cruelty to European animals at a slaughterhouse in Beirut. Now, Compassion’s Investigation Unit, in partnership with Animals Australia, has also documented brutal handling at abattoirs and on the streets in Jordan, Turkey and the West Bank.

The handling and slaughter these animals can face is nothing short of horrendous. But it shouldn’t be that way. All of the countries we visited have signed up as members of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and in doing so have signed up to a code of recommendations on the slaughter of livestock. Yet, everywhere we visited we saw multiple breaches of even the most basic OIE recommendations.

In slaughterhouses we filmed staff moving animals into place by dragging them by the tail, legs, fleece and even by the eye sockets. Some animals were strung up with chains; their whole body weight on one leg. Others were restrained in mechanical boxes that flipped them completely upside down and then dropped them onto the bodies of other dying animals.

When animals don’t end up in slaughterhouses, they face death on the streets – an even more brutal and unregulated ending. We found animals being pulled out of the backs of trucks without ramps, bound by the feet, tripped over with ropes, contorted into position and then tied to the ground or pinned down by large groups of people before being slaughtered. Often, when it came to slaughter the knives used were blunt and ineffective and animals remained conscious for many minutes after having their throats cut.

What’s the solution?

Much of the suffering we witnessed could easily be stopped with just basic and inexpensive changes to slaughterhouses and staff training.

Ultimately, Compassion wants an end to all long-distance transport of farm animals. But the cruel trade in animals from the EU is vast and will take time to crack. As an interim measure, we’re therefore calling for action to ensure that exported European animals are slaughtered to at least the standards recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

EU Member States that wish to export animals outside of the EU should be providing practical support to improve the standards of slaughter in importing countries.

Supporting improvements to slaughter in this way will of course not only help any European animals that end up in non-EU countries. It would also reduce the suffering of all animals facing slaughter in those countries.

Please watch our exposé today and then take action by filling out the form to the right to email the Agriculture Ministers of the EUs biggest exporters of live animals.

Warning: The contents of this video are graphic and will be distressing.

Due to its upsetting nature, you may need to verify that you are over 18 to watch the film.

 

Take action

Email the Member States that export the most animals beyond the EU.

Fill in your details below and click submit to email this message to the Agriculture Ministers in Bulgaria, Romania, France, Hungary and Germany.

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