Unfortunately we here in Europe are really no better. Around 100,000 horses across Europe are sold for meat. As around 84% are slaughtered in Italy, they can face journeys of up to 5 days before death. There have been, since January 2007, extensive regulations governing how horses should be transported. They are supposed to have 24 hours' rest for every 24 hours of travel. They are supposed to be watered every 8 hours, and if necessary fed. They should have enough room, and should be fit to travel: there are several staging posts in Europe, at which drivers are supposed to stop and tend to the horses. However, the abolition of border controls in the EU means it is only too easy for huge transporters full of horses to drive, drive, drive, and ignore the staging posts and the needs of the horses.
Horse and Hound's Abi Butcher travelled with Jo White from World Horse Welfare (which used to be the ILPH) from Poland to Italy, to track what happens to horses sent for slaughter. You can see some of her video diary here:
and read her diary here, and here, and here, with day 4 here, and day 5 here.
World Horse Welfare has a petition: the aim is not to stop the slaughter of horses, but to stop the suffering caused by the widespread flouting of the rules. They want to:
- see rigorous enforcement of the existing rules
- introduce finite journey time for horses travelling to slaughter
- end the long distance transportation of horses to slaughter in Europe
Please sign the petition. I think it is terrible that much loved horses end up on horse transporters, and some of that is the fault of horse owners. If a horse is elderly, or unlikely to find a decent home it is no use hoping against hope someone will offer it a "good home": make the difficult decision and have the horse put down yourself in its own surroundings where it is comfortable. I don't have a particular problem either with horses being sold for meat, as long as they are slaughtered at source. After all, you can drive as long as you like with meat. It no longer has feelings. Transporting living, breathing animals, and making them suffer, must be stopped.