RSPCA: A pledge of zero tolerance to welfare breaches at the ports

Joint call to end cruel trade

The RSPCA’s new chief executive, Thanet Council and Compassion in World Farming have all pledged zero tolerance to breaches of animal welfare or transport laws at ports where the trade in animal exports continues. 

Thousands of calves and sheep have been transported to the continent from Ramsgate, Kent, since May last year (2011).

The RSPCA is against the live shipment of animals that can travel long distances for further fattening and slaughter.

Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA and trustee Daphne Harris, met with leaders of Thanet District Council, which owns the port, Compassion in World Farming and campaigners to discuss how to end the trade.

Mr Grant said: “There will be zero tolerance of animal abuse from the Port of Ramsgate. We will be putting together a programme of work to ensure this happens and give due notice to the hauliers and shippers that if we find causes of animal abuse we will prosecute them.

“The reality is that animals, sometimes just weeks-old, are being shipped out of Ramsgate to face long journeys across Europe only to be slaughtered or reared in conditions which could be illegal here.

“The RSPCA, Thanet District Council, the people of this community and country do not support this trade. 

“Sadly it is still legal – something we want to change. The RSPCA is going to work with all of these groups to ensure that animals are not abused while this trade continues.

“Ramsgate is such a beautiful place but with this ugly stain upon it. We’d like to see an end to this trade, tomorrow wouldn’t be too soon.” 

Emma Slawinski, Senior Campaigns Manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: “From the moment this trade came to Ramsgate in May last year, we have worked with local groups to oppose it but Ramsgate is still an unwilling participant in this cruel trade.

“It shouldn’t be legal in 2012 to transport two-week-old calves from Cumbria to Spain, but it is. So while we are doing everything possible to lobby for a change in the law, we will continue to fight for an end to live exports from Ramsgate.” 

Councillor Michelle Fenner, Cabinet member from Thanet District Council said: “We will use the law in terms of animal welfare and our duty of care to put pressure on DEFRA and the UK Government to assist us in the implementation of zero tolerance of this awful trade.”

The meeting today resolved:

· A joint working group will be formed

· RSPCA is seeking permission from the port authorities to allow Inspectors at the port

· Talks will continue with the police to ensure animal welfare laws are enforced

The RSPCA is delighted that almost 400 MEPs have supported a written declaration calling for a maximum eight hour journey time across the European Union which will put pressure on the European Commission to reconsider the current live transport rules.

 

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Notes to editors

· Last year, 8,000 animals were exported to Europe likely to be reared for veal

· Legally some animals can spend 24 hours on board a lorry without a break*, in temperatures of up to 35C and can be packed in so tightly they cannot lie down or reach food and water

· *Legal journey times change depending on species – pigs and horses can be transported for 24 hours before a rest, whilst unweaned calves can be transported for nine hours, followed by a one hour stop on the vehicle and then a further nine hours of travel.

· For more information about the RSPCA’s work on long-distance live transport please contact the press office.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk Website: www.rspca.org.uk

Love hens? Enjoy eggs? Check out our guide to choosing cage-free eggs: http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/farm/layinghens