February 13, 2008

A global campaign backed by leading animal charities is calling for an end to the long distance transport of live animals for slaughter.

The Handle with Care Coalition includes all the leading UK-based animal welfare charities: the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA and the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).

It has released film shot undercover revealing the global traffic in live animals and is calling on governments worldwide to bring an end to this trade.

The film shows how farm animals are being routinely shipped around the world in overcrowded and filthy conditions, on journeys that can take several weeks. Every day thousands of animals die en route from disease, hunger and stress.

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Campaigns Director Leah Garces said: "British people are growing increasingly concerned about the way animals are treated and I am sure they will be horrified by the cruelty and suffering that can clearly be seen in this new undercover film.

"We were determined to show people the truth of this hidden and brutal traffic in animals - if you see it for yourself - you just know it must be stopped."

In Europe, thousands of horses suffer in crowded conditions on illegal journeys of up to 36 hours from Spain to Italy to be slaughtered for meat.

Speaking on behalf of the International League for the Protection of Horses, Jo White, Director of Campaigns and Communications said: "Long distance transport to slaughter is the biggest single abuse of horses in Europe, with around 100,000 involved in the trade.

"The ILPH is committed to ending this unnecessary suffering and with the review of EU legislation next year, urges the public to demonstrate their objection to this inhumane trade as a matter or urgency."

Compassion in World Farming Chief Executive Philip Lymbery said: "The cruelty these animals endure is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. This trade is one in which millions of animals suffer cruel and unnecessary journeys each year. It must stop."

RSPCA spokesman David Bowles said: "The long distance transport of animals is an emotive issue and one that people care passionately about. The RSPCA is urging everyone to support this campaign so that we can stop this cruel and unnecessary trade."

The transport of chilled and frozen meat has been going on for more than 125 years. But still, millions of cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and other animals still suffer and thousands die while being transported unnecessarily long distances each year just to be slaughtered on arrival.

The coalition urges people to see the evidence at www.handlewithcare.tv and add their name to a letter of protest which calls on governments to stop the cruel and unnecessary long distance transport of animals for slaughter.

The campaign highlights organisers consider to be four of the worst routes - sheep from Australia to the Middle East, cattle from Brazil to Lebanon, horses from Spain to Italy and Pigs from Canada to Hawaii.