Australia: Calls for national registry in wake of slaughterhouse investigation - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Calls for national registry in wake of slaughterhouse investigation

05:11  18 october  2019
05:11  18 october  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

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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, claims the ABC.

However, the national broadcaster says a two-year investigation, culminating in a report that aired on yesterday's edition of 7.30, shows the number is much higher.

a brown horse standing next to a fence: A two-year ABC investigation has revealed allegations hundreds of Australian racehorses are being sent to the slaughterhouse.© ABC A two-year ABC investigation has revealed allegations hundreds of Australian racehorses are being sent to the slaughterhouse.

WARNING: THE IMAGES BELOW CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT

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Racing Australia chief executive Barry O'Farrell said today that prosecutions "should, and I suspect will, occur".

Mr O'Farrell said that that while he was "appalled" by what he had seen he had faith in state regulators and the chief executives of the state racing bodies.

"[State racing chief executives] are doing everything they can just to ensure the sport of racing thrives and flourishes, but also that responsibility for equine welfare is as high as possible within their jurisdictions," he said.

"Of course we condemn it."

The former Liberal premier of NSW also questioned why activists involved in the investigation didn't blow "the whistle earlier".

a close up of a horse: A horse pictured in 7.30's report into the treatment of racehorses.© ABC A horse pictured in 7.30's report into the treatment of racehorses.

"Let's not conflate two issues. That facility we saw last night, and those unacceptable practices, is a state abattoir in Queensland. Those practices that I saw, I know from my background in state politics, are serious offences under state animal welfare legislation," he said.

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"I think the program last night said the activists had been taking vision for a number of years. Why wouldn't they have blown the whistle earlier to stop this inhumane treatment?"

Racing Victoria and the country's peak racing body, Racing Australia, have both said there needs to be a better system of data collection relating to the retirement of horses.

Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said the body would push ahead with an "audit of Victorian horses that have not raced in the past 18 months but are not listed as retired with Racing Australia."

"We are sickened by the horrific images that we saw on ABC 7.30 Report last night, particularly the inhumane treatment of horses at the Queensland abattoir," he said.

Racing Australia is calling for a National Traceability Register for all horses that would provide federal and state animal welfare authorities access to ownership and location information for these Thoroughbreds.

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a close up of an animal: A thoroughbred in the slaughterhouse.© ABC A thoroughbred in the slaughterhouse.

"Thoroughbreds horses represent approximately 10% of the national equine population (estimated at 1 million horses nationally)," Racing Australia said in a statement.

"While racing authorities keep track of the owners and locations of Thoroughbreds during their careers, that is not true for most horses across Australia.

A National Horse Register would fill this gap, allow federal and state authorities access to ownership and location information and help improve equine welfare outcomes nationally."

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula said the horse racing industry needs to look at the number of horses that are bred, following a similar reaction in the greyhound industry following the ABC expose of acts of cruelty against racing dogs.

"After the live-baiting story broke a few years ago, there's been a massive focus on how many dogs are bred and how they are rehomed," Mr Pakula told ABC Radio.

A thoroughbred in the slaughterhouse.© ABC A thoroughbred in the slaughterhouse.

"And nationally, the breeding sector and horse racing needs to look at the number of horses that are bred."

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Elio Celotto from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses told the ABC that about 4000 racehorses had been killed in one abattoir alone.

Animal welfare and behaviour scientist Professor Paul McGreevy told the ABC there was no way the racing industry could defend the behaviour.

"This is a clear breach of everything the industry has told us," he said.

The investigation also aired accusations of multiple instances of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouses racehorses are being sent to.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Today state governments need to step up and do something.

"It is upsetting," he said, "and if there is a law ... it needs to be enforced if it is not. But it is a very difficult situation."

The ABC says despite racing's peak body implementing rules requiring the registration and tracking of horses from their birth to their retirement, racehorses are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis.

Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys told the ABC he was not aware of any NSW racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses.

However, he said if it is occurring the state body would "put the full force of the law" against offenders.

with AAP

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