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Australia Hundreds of racehorses sent to slaughterhouses in contravention of racing rules

13:40  17 october  2019
13:40  17 october  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Hundreds of registered racehorses are being discarded at slaughterhouses in Australia, in contravention of racing rules , rehoming policies Elio Celotto, from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses , has told the ABC that many more than 34 horses have been killed in just one week

Racing NSW rules prohibit racehorses from being sent to abattoirs and knackeries. One Queensland abattoir was recorded slaughtering around 300 racehorses in just 22 days. Hundreds of racehorses sent to slaughterhouses in contravention of racing rules .

a close up of a horse: Racehorses in a pen at a Queensland abattoir. (ABC News)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Racehorses in a pen at a Queensland abattoir. (ABC News)

Hundreds of registered racehorses are being discarded at slaughterhouses in Australia, in contravention of racing rules, rehoming policies and animal welfare guarantees.

WARNING: This story includes images which are distressing.

According to official data promoted by Racing Australia, the national body for thoroughbred racing, less than 1 per cent of horses retiring each year end up at an abattoir.

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The overhaul in the treatment of retired racehorses is a key recommendation of an inquiry into the sector, after the ABC's 7.30 program revealed hundreds of the animals were being sent to slaughterhouses , in contravention of racing rules . WARNING: This story contains images that are

Racing NSW sends a letter of complaint to the ABC claiming it was not given enough time to respond to "extremely serious allegations" made by the 7.30 program about the mistreatment of It also aired claims that NSW racehorses had been sent to abattoirs, in breach of that state's racing rules .

This represents around 34 horses per year ending up at slaughterhouses, according to the racing industry.

But the ABC has obtained information revealing that, based on a two-year investigation, the number far exceeds this.

Elio Celotto, from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, has told the ABC that more than 34 horses have been killed in one week alone at a single abattoir.

"It equates to about 4,000 racehorses killed in this one abattoir alone," he extrapolated.

The scale of killing has shocked industry experts including Professor Paul McGreevy, an animal welfare and behaviour scientist with 25 years research experience into the thoroughbred racing industry.

"This is the sort of stuff that will shake the industry to its core," Professor McGreevy told the ABC.

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Life for horses can be difficult after racing , and caring for a retired animal is demanding. Life after racing . Horse trainer Cecilia Norley met Sydney at the peak of his racing career. Hundreds of racehorses sent to slaughterhouses in contravention of racing rules .

The number of racehorses being sent to the slaughterhouse is far higher than officials claim, according to The ABC says Racing Australia's official data claims around 34 horses every year end up at slaughterhouses , a figure amounting to less than one per cent of retiring racehorses .

"There is no way the industry can defend this. This is a clear breach of everything the industry has told us.

"The truth that has been revealed is that thoroughbreds are entering knackeries and abattoirs and that their treatment within those facilities can be appalling."

Proof of animal cruelty 'absolutely appalling'

The investigation has also uncovered multiple instances of what Professor McGreevy described as animal cruelty and unacceptable practices at Australian slaughterhouses.

This includes horses trapped inside kill boxes unable to move, while slaughterhouse workers apply electronic shocks on their bodies and anus.

Racehorses are also being lashed, kicked, stomped and terrorised.

Once-highly valuable champion horses have also been sent to slaughter.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that we could let our equine athletes down in this way," Professor McGreevy said.

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The racing industry has been rocked in the lead up to one of the nation’s biggest raceday with the ABC 730 program – The Final Race – an The ABC program was a result of a two-year investigation and stated, “ Hundreds of registered racehorses are being discarded at slaughterhouses in Australia, in

Hundreds of racehorses are sent to slaughterhouses in Australia which contravenes the rules of racing . Thousands of thoroughbred racehorses are being sent for slaughter — many abused and inhumanely killed — despite rules preventing just that.Source:ABC.

"These represent atrocious practice.

"It's the racing industry that's responsible for exposing these animals to this miserable end."

'The industry's let a lot of people down'

The grisly end being meted out to the racing industry's unwanted horses is occurring on a weekly basis, despite Racing Australia introducing a "traceability rule" in 2016 requiring the registration and tracking of all horses from birth to retirement.

In the wake of the ill-fated NSW greyhound racing ban announced in 2016, the thoroughbred horse racing industry also introduced a raft of new animal welfare measures aimed at protecting the welfare of horses before, during and after their racing careers.

The centrepiece of the reforms in NSW and the ACT included a jurisdiction-first ban on the practice of discarding unwanted racehorses at knackeries and abattoirs.

The strict prohibition was introduced to the official Rules of Racing in both states. Other states introduced revamped rehoming and animal welfare policies.

In 2018, Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys told the ABC's Four Corners "the objective is that no horse that races or is domiciled in NSW — doesn't have to get to a racecourse — but if it's born, bred, domiciled predominantly in NSW, we'll need to find it a home".

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While slaughtering racehorses is not illegal in the state of Queensland, it is in New South Wales, and the ABC report revealed some horses were illicitly transported across state lines to be butchered instead of rehomed in accordance with state law.

The number of horses being sent to the slaughterhouse is far higher than officials claim, according to an explosive and deeply distressing ABC investigation. A two-year ABC investigation has revealed allegations hundreds of Australian racehorses are being sent to the slaughterhouse .

But the ABC's investigation can reveal racehorses are still being sent to slaughterhouses.

"There's a massive question mark over the regulator and the problems with self-regulation come into play yet again," Professor McGreevy said.

'Someone's been asleep': racing industry in shock at animal cruelty revelations

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"When we bet on horses we are interacting with this industry and we deserve better, the horses deserve better, people who love the industry deserve better. So the industry's let a lot of people down and a lot of horses down."

Mr V'landys said he was unaware of any NSW racehorses being sent to an abattoir or knackery, including slaughterhouses in NSW and interstate.

"If it's happening we will put the full force of the law against them because they're breaking the rules of racing," Mr V'landys said.

The NSW chief steward has confirmed to the ABC this afternoon that it will investigate the practice.

Harness racing industry also embroiled in mass slaughter

The ABC can also reveal that standardbreds from harness racing are being killed at slaughterhouses, despite the code's policy of rehoming horses.

At the September hearings of the Senate Committee into the feasibility of a national "horse traceability" register, Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the code had a "cradle to grave approach".

Harness Racing NSW CEO John Dumesny told the ABC his organisation was developing a rehoming strategy.

"We do have a rehoming program with people in the industry rehoming their own horses," he told the ABC.

But slaughterhouses will be revealed tonight as being the ultimate dumping ground for both the harness and thoroughbred racing industry's wastage, with horses ending up at the facilities through a variety of ways.

Inquiry launched into the welfare of retired racehorses .
An independent inquiry will investigate the treatment of retired racehorses and allegations of animal cruelty at abattoirs, the Queensland Premier has announced. An independent inquiry will investigate the treatment of retired racehorses and allegations of animal cruelty at abattoirs, the Que Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the inquiry will be overseen by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and will be headed by retired judge Terry Martin SC.She said the inquiry will determine what processes can be put in place to end cruelty to animals in Queensland.

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