Image courtesy of Animals Australia
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
These words of Mahatma Gandhi play over in my mind whenever I witness the cruel way that people treat animals. Reports are regularly published on the cruelty inflicted on animals but more often than not, the reports are from overseas.
This week, Australians were reminded that we too mistreat animals.
One of Victoria's oldest slaughterhouses, Riverside Meats at Echuca, Victoria, has again come under fire for animal cruelty.
In footage aired on ABC News Victoria this week, we see workers burning, electrocuting and paralysing calves using equipment that is meant to "reduce suffering". We also see a calf being held down while his throat is slit after trying to break free from the production line. Conscious sheep fall onto bloody floors and a pig suffers for over six minutes whilst a slaughterhouse worker shoots her with a captive bolt gun MULTIPLE TIMES, finally shooting her twice with a rifle.
Click image for ABC News story, aired 22 November 2016
This isn't Indonesia.
This isn't the US.
This isn't China.
This is happening RIGHT HERE.
Riverside Meats is one of the main slaughterhouses in the country. It is a family owned and run production. This is the second time in three years that the Victorian industry regulator, PrimeSafe, has taken action against the slaughterhouse.
Three years ago, Riverside Meats were accused of cruel treatment of unwanted dairy calves. They were investigated. The result? There weren't sufficient grounds to prosecute so the company was given warnings. Following the investigation, Primesafe considered that Riverside were compliant with animal welfare requirements.
This time round, four workers have been moved to other roles and the company has been ordered to improve its training and welfare practices.
THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
The industry watchdog, the Government, are not doing enough to stop the cruelty. It wasn't the industry watchdog who captured the footage that revealed the cruelty. It wasn't the Government. It was a whistleblower. A concerned citizen who risked their life to capture footage of cruelty occurring at this slaughterhouse; who then provided that footage to Animals Australia.
Victoria's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Charles Milne has said it's "the worst case" he's seen, that there is a systematic problem at the facility and that the abuse "must have been known to management".
The owners have denied awareness of the cruelty but have publicly stated that they will support the installation of 24-hour CCTV surveillance at the slaughterhouse with independent monitoring.
Riverside Meat's Chris Peat has come out and said that animal cruelty is "definitely a cultural issue, which is throughout the meat industry, and which we have still not solved". Hear hear.
Not surprisingly, the Australian Meat Industry Council rejects any suggestion that there there is a cultural problem in the meat industry. Wake up already.
Whatever the cause of this continuing cruelty, Head of Communications at Voiceless, Elise Burgess, hits the nail on the head. In a recently published opinion piece, Elise writes:
"Unlike the live export industry, which so many Australians are vocally opposed too (and rightly so), this abuse is happening in our backyard to feed our national appetite. This is our responsibility."
According to Animals Australia:
"...it’s the demand for meat and dairy that’s fuelling this relentless pressure to kill and butcher animals quickly. Workers become frustrated, corners are cut and cruelty inevitably ensues. That’s partly why 1 in 4 Australians are now choosing to cut back on meat or cut it out completely — removing themselves from this perpetual cycle of cruelty and saving animals from the terror of slaughter."
The best way to stop the cruelty is not by installing CCTV. Yes, it may improve things by reminding slaughterhouse workers that they are being watched thereby potentially encouraging them to improve their behaviour, but it will not stop the cruelty. The demand for meat needs to reduce. Significantly.
Going back to Gandhi, if the greatness of our nation was to be judged right now, we would not be considered great. We must treat animals better. We need to start today.
The most effective way of ensuring that cruelty to farm animals STOPS, is to reduce meat consumption, or cut it out completely. Book a free discovery session with me today to find out how I can help you do this.