Live Animal Export Position Statement
Sentient is fundamentally opposed to live animal exports due to the unacceptable suffering of large numbers of animals involved. This trade is inherently fraught with serious animal welfare risks at all stages of the process. Exported animals are subjected to high levels of stress on their journeys due to heat, humidity, overcrowding, handling, fatigue and unfamiliar pelleted, high GI food.
These environmental factors place them at risk of traumatic injury, infectious diseases (such as salmonellosis or pneumonia) and heat stress. Some animals die on board from these causes or from severe weather events; despite industry claims that mortality rates are low, we believe any such uncontrolled deaths are unacceptable. Animal welfare abuses in the importing countries include cruel inappropriate and often harmful handling, transport, and slaughter practices that would not be considered acceptable in Australia and that fall below the even less stringent international World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. The stress experienced by exported livestock is cumulative, and may be experienced for a number of months between the time of initial loading and slaughter.
The live export trade has been characterised by ongoing breaches of existing and proposed welfare standards, despite years of attempts at improvement. This refutes the trade-based argument that Australia’s involvement in live export enables us to improve animal welfare conditions in importing countries. We cannot influence the treatment of animals in countries where no animal welfare legislation exists, so it is pointless to insist that these countries conform to OIE standards, which are in any case voluntary. Australia therefore remains morally responsible for the fate of animals we export to such destinations.
Sentient believes that we all have a duty of care to ensure that animals are handled according to best practice standards, as recommended by Dr Temple Grandin, the acknowledged word authority on animal slaughter. We must also ensure that they are slaughtered humanely via upright pre-slaughter stunning, as close to the point of production as possible.
Sentient is proud to be part of the growing movement of concerned organisations and individuals working towards a permanent end to Australia’s involvement in the live export trade, a trade which poses a serious risk to our reputation as an ethical and compassionate nation. In the meantime we will continue to comment on the extensive welfare issues faced by our exported livestock and to advise ways of addressing these during the phasing out of the live trade.