23/03/2012

RSPCA promises zero tolerance of animal abuse at ports

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. 

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.  
 
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant meets animal welfare campaigners in Ramsgate. Image courtesy RSPCA.The pledge comes after RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant and trustee Daphne Harris met with leaders of Thanet District Council, which owns the port at Ramsgate, Kent, from which thousands of calves and sheep have been transported to the continent since May 2011.

Compassion in World Farming and other campaigners also attended the meeting yesterday (March 22, 2012) 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 Joline has been transporting calves and sheep from Ramsgate in Kent since May 2011. Photo courtesy RSPCA."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."
 
Protesters at RamsgateLocal councillor Michelle Fenner 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."
 
Yesterday's meeting saw agreements that:

  • A joint working group will be formed;
  • The RSPCA will seek permission from port authorities to allow inspectors at the port; and
  • 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.

Images courtesy RSPCA
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