Live animal transport

As common as animal transport is here, it never ceases to incense. On our last trip north to visit family, in an hour’s time we saw four trucks crammed full of turkeys and eleven trucks of pigs, plus who knows how many hog confinements, feed lots, etc. Given how often we witness it here, I don’t know why it never occurred to me before that animals might be experiencing something similar, or even worse, in other first world countries!

I didn’t know until recently that animals are often shipped overseas for consumption but before slaughter, just as they are trucked across the U.S. In addition, sometimes they are flown to other countries.

I found out about the shipping industry while watching a speech by Australia’s Philip Wollen about live animal export that was prefaced by a video showing a HUGE ship full of live animals being sent to other countries for slaughter.¬† It was the size of an ocean liner, like a cargo ship, many stories high, filled with cage after cage.

Conditions for animals on such ships are abysmal. They are cramped and scary. Just like people, some cows get sea sick. And if something happens to them, they are just as likely to get thrown overboard mid-ocean as to get medical attention. According to one source, it’s estimated that millions have died at sea.

When the animals get to their final destinations for slaughter, it doesn’t matter where they came from. There are no protections for how they’re handled. They’re often sent to countries where animal cruelty is not event a consideration and face barbaric and inhumane treatment.

Flights are no more pleasurable for the animals, and casualties occur during air transport too. In fact earlier this week it came to light that 174 out of 2000 sheep died during a flight from Australia to Singapore due to heat exhaustion. They had been destined for use as sacrificial animals in Korban Rites, an Islamic religious tradition that takes places yearly.

Australia seems to be taken the lead on this one, with the group Animals Australia spearheading the effort. Their Ban Live Export campaign seeks to bring light to the issue, conduct investigations, and eventually stop live animal export from Australia to Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

It’s important to note though that Australia hasn’t cornered the market on this form of cruelty. These practices occur all over the world, including in the United States. As egregious as it is, we hear little about live animal export here. It is not forefront on the issues list for any US-based animal welfare group that I know of, and our government has gone out of their way to make it easier for live exports to keep up with growing global demand.