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RSPCA investigates knackery

Laverton Pet Supplies, a significant buyer of knackery horses at sales such as Echuca and Ballarat, has had its contract to supply meat to zoos cancelled after allegations of cruelty.

CATHY WALKER December 19, 2012 4:08am

It is now under investigation by DPI and the RSPCA.

An animal welfare group filmed a horse in a paddock at Laverton being shot in front of 20 others and then dragged by tractor across concrete and gravel only to lift its head and be shot again and have its throat cut, four minutes after the initial shot.

When the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses went public with the images, Zoos Victoria viewed the footage.

Spokeswoman Jenny Gray said the zoo management was ‘‘horrified’’ and as well as cancelling the Laverton contract would review the practices of all its suppliers.

The big cats at Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo are fed meat from the outer-suburban Melbourne knackery.

DPI has received a complaint from Animals Australia after it was given the film, while the RSPCA is investigating the complaint in the context of possible offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The RSPCA normally handles issues relating to the welfare of horses.

A DPI spokesman said, under the Meat Industry Act 1975, a knackery must be licensed with Primesafe to operate to standards that include welfare requirements for humane handling and slaughter.

‘‘Complaints are first given to Primesafe to investigate. If there are welfare or cruelty issues (for horse cruelty) then the matter is referred to the RSPCA,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘Primesafe has power to close the facility down and to prosecute for non-compliance with standards; RSPCA has power to manage any current horse welfare problems and to prosecute for cruelty offences that have occurred.’’

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is a strident critic of jumps racing and racing in general and describes its website as ‘‘the one the racing industry doesn’t want you to see’’.

The site includes images of horses being put down at Laverton and states ‘‘the fate of racehorses after racing is one of the industry’s dirtiest and best-kept secrets’’.

In other ‘‘information’’ to encourage donations from the urban audience, the horseracingkills.com website turns itself to the stud world, where it makes these sweeping statements:

‘‘The foal will be ‘broken’ — meaning it will be taught to comply with human commands through learned helplessness techniques — which compels the horse to obey due to fear, pain or both.

‘‘The horses that rebel against the oppressive training methods will be forced even more harshly into compliance. If they fail to comply, they will be deemed rogue horses and discarded.

‘‘The mother (brood mare) is taken away and prepared for the birth of her next foal. She will be pregnant for more than 90 per cent of her life.

‘‘Brood mares are mostly discarded once their stud days are over. Studs will often demand breeding horses be killed when they are discarded to prevent breeding by future owners.’’

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