Queensland state authorities are investigating the shocking slaughter of some 500 retired racehorses a month at an abattoir where the creatures are allegedly tortured before they’re turned into meat for animals and humans.
Now those authorities have opened an investigation into Meramist, one of just two facilities in Australia licensed to produce and export horse meat for human consumption, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Tuesday, reiterating that she was “sickened and appalled” by what she saw.
“Animal welfare is everybody’s responsibility and my government will not stand for cruelty to animals,” Palaszczuk told reporters, pointing out that Queensland has the strictest laws against animal cruelty in the country. The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission will oversee the probe, and a separate investigation conducted by Biosecurity Queensland was launched on Friday after the ABC program aired.
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 horses’ identities were traced using their branding and microchips, and cross-referencing with race records revealed they had won a total of $5 million in prize money for their owners before they were sent to the slaughterhouse. Horse racing in Australia is a $1 billion industry, and some 14,000 foals are born into it each year.
From Meramist, the meat is shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption and processed into animal food – some of which is fed, ironically, to racing greyhounds. The meat is also supplied to kennels and pet shops.
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Australian racing authorities insist that just 0.4 to 1 percent of the 8,500 horses retired from racing each year are slaughtered, but state regulators admitted to ABC they are unable to keep up even with the national rule requiring them to trace every horse from birth to retirement – and they aren’t required to track them after that.
That needs to change, Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell told the Telegraph. “A national horse traceability program is critical” – including “a system to track horse movement” once they retire.
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