New Shock Investigation Reveals Horrors Of Horse Abattoirs In Latin America

Andrea A.
14/4/2018

(Attention. Certain images are difficult to look at)Recently, Belgian animal right's charity GAIA (Action Group in the Interest of Animals), relayed an investigation(in French) carried out by Argentina and Uruguay on the suffering of horses destined for slaughter. These images reveal in particular, alarming living conditions, lack of care and respect for the European Union's rules and regulations.

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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

Since 2009, GAIA has been conducting or relaying investigations on horse slaughter trafficking in Latin America. The horse meat produced in these countries is imported then resold in the European Union, particularly in Belgium. The investigation relayed today was carried out in 2017 by Swiss charity TSB(Tierschutsbund Zürich).

Shocking images which speak for themselves

The images from the video were filmed in several different slaughterhouses in both Argentina and Uruguay, all approved by the EU.The investigation starts in the biggest horse abattoir in Argentina. Here, you can clearly see a large number of horses, nervous and agitated. The fact that they are held in such close proximity only serves to increase their stress levels, leading to agressive behaviour.

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 Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

There is no shelter to protect them from the harsh conditions (strong winds, rain, extreme heat), and they are piled up in an enclosure which is far too small.In addition to this, the employees on site seem to be incompetent, even negligent. An employee can also be see pushing the head of a horse to the ground of the enclosure, when in reality it should have been euthanised given its state of health. The voice off-camera commentates on this saying:

It's a collection of broken, infected legs, inflamed joints, unmaintained hooves. 
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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

On November 20 2017, investigators came across a mare with an injured leg. They came the next day to check on the state of the animal and saw that it was dying on the ground. 20 minutes of pain later, the mare was dead. To check this, an employee approached her and touched her with a stick before pushing her with his foot. The body was then taken away by a tractor a few minutes later.

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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

At General Pico, another Argentinian abattoir, and at Sarel and Clay (the biggest abattoir in Uruguay), the conditions are the same. The horses have a dull coat, "in poor condition", which testifies their poor state of health: "the horses are left to their fate, without protection from the sun".

Amateur slaughter conditions

At Lamar, the horses are brought to the abattoir by negligent employees, who don't seem to be trained, contrary to the requirements of european importation measures. One of them closes a metal hatch on the horse's back while the other hits its head to lead it to the slaughter line. The horses are clearly nervous and obey all the less. This method is a true form of torture for them.

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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

The european importers insist that the employees are well trained. However, the footage shows otherwise.

"Ruthlessly transported thousands of miles to the slaughterhouse"

But the ordeal fo these animals doesn't start at the doors of the abattoir. Even before they arrive, they have lived a stressful life, being used for all sorts of activities with their nightmare continuing with the transport.

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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

The investigation shows that in Latin America, horses are transported in the same ill-equipped lorries as those used for cows. Consequently, the horses hurt themselves, often receiving no care for these injuries.

Non-existent "traceability"

On top of this mistreatment, the different animal protection charities such as GAIA have also noticed a lack of traceability in an overwhelming amount of cases. This fraudulent act is a risk factor for public health.In the video, the horses are identified (with the help of an earring) just minutes before the slaughterhouse, when they should have been on arrival. This means that the EU doesn't know the origins of the horses, and therefore the meat consumed. This "last minute identification" constitutes fraud.

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Screenshot of the video/investigation by TSB in 2017 - Source: GAIA

Organisations such as GAIA and TSB work hard to raise awareness of animal abuse. Horse meat is the subject of numerous controversies due to its deplorable transport conditions, and living and abattoir conditions for the animals.Large retailers often put pressure on them to stem controversial situations, such as the mistreatment of slaughter horses.GAIA has been the subject of legal proceedings by Renmans butcher, accused of playing a part in the mistreatment of Argentinian horses.The video (in French):