Nov 2005 -- Germany Animal Rights

Last week Animals' Angels worked together with a Norwegian animal protection organization in Norway. This is something very special because we have waited for a whole year to do this project. An Animals' Angels Team was with the animals, this time with the reindeer on their way to the slaughterhouse. This is a particularly gruesome process that always takes place in the fall. Last year we found out about it too late. But because we are persistent and do not forget something like that, an undercover team was on site this time.

The course of events is as follows:
In northern Norway hundreds of wild reindeer are rounded up in the fall and locked into pens. There they receive earmarks which, for animals who are terribly afraid of people, must be a horrible procedure. Some animals are marked such that half their ear is simply cut off.
Some reindeer are sorted out and killed for immediate consumption. I.e., their throats are slit without anesthesia. Or they are stabbed in the throat or heart with a knife. But to do this they must first be captured and bound. It takes several minutes for them to die.

The transport of the animals is a horrible torture. Some transporters have the antlers cut off with motorized saws. The animals with antlers get their long prongs tangled up during transport, which causes terrible pain and panic we cannot even begin to comprehend. Animals are trampled to death. Others beat their heads against the walls of the truck until they are dead.

The Team was able to film in two slaughterhouses. I have not yet seen the material but must say that I am already afraid of watching it. We will utilize it only in consultation with the Norwegian animal rights activists in order not to jeopardize their contacts and opportunities to change this situation. Some of the mentioned practices are illegal – under EU and Norwegian law. Unfortunately, others are permitted.

A further complication is that the reindeer are bred and kept by the Sami. The Sami are considered very aggressive if someone criticizes their lifestyle, and accordingly, there has not been any documentation and only very subdued criticism of these practices. And certain human rights groups within Norwegian society fight any criticism of the indigenous population of Norway, especially if the victims are "only" animals.

Thus we have a war on two fronts again, which over the course of the past few years has caused my relationship towards the human rights movement, of which I felt a part for decades, to be quite reserved. This is also a consequence of "we are with the animals." ... Of course this right applies to minorities, social outcasts the same as to those of privileged groups. But it also applies to animals. And the few "rights" that they are given must also be respected by the "minorities." I have clearly aligned my loyalties on this matter by now. And the Teams have, too. In any event, the Norwegians will exhaust all legal and journalistic options that we have now given them with the campaign financed by us. I am confident and feel that this will be a truly effective and successful long-term division of labor in animal protection.

That's it for today. Have a wonderful weekend and the next weekend info will be published in two weeks.

Christa Blanke

Dear friends, October 25, 2005

Good news regarding Holland. Animals' Angels spent much energy and time conducting numerous investigations in Holland over the past 6 months. After discovering each time horrible treatment of dairy cows-particularly regarding the dragging of downer cows onto trucks and further to slaughter, Animals' Angels sent numerous reports and footage to the Ministry of Agriculture of Holland.

We also trailed a pig truck originating from Holland and had it inspected by Italian police near Rome. On board there were 40 dead pigs that had suffocated from the heat. A report and footage of this horrible story was also forwarded to all pertinent Dutch officials. Finally we were granted a meeting with the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture in The Hague.

The chief of the meeting was very frank stated that since Animals' Angels arrived in their country they have been suffering from bad headaches! However, they have taken action- in fact there is already a veterinarian placed at the cull cow market in Leeuwarden and soon there will be one at Utrecht market- another large market held every week with culled dairy cows.

They have put into place a Animal Transport Task Force group, which consists of officials whose main job is to focus on improving animal welfare during transport and better application of the laws and training of the veterinarians signing export papers.

Thanks to Christine, a meeting was also held the following week between the Dutch Ministry officials and the Italians to discuss how to prosecute Dutch companies efficiently that continue entering Italy fully overloaded and often with dead pigs on board. Tatjana, who joined Animals' Angels a few months ago (and conducted many of those cull-cow investigations with me) is now working in Holland as an inspector for us. She is thrilled that there are at least a few good people in the ministry that she can count on and that officials are finally taking action.

Sad news in Australia- I just finished reading a report Iris forwarded me from Dawn, our inspector there. A ship in Freemantle harbour was destined to sail with thousands of sheep to the Middle east on October 15. However, upon returning to the harbour 4 days later, Animals' Angels noticed the ship still there, but parked slightly further down in the harbour.

They discovered the ship due to the stench- in Freemantle the outdoor temperature was already 28°C and on board it must have been much worse. The ship was blocked because the crane had fallen off and injured a driver-authorities did not permit the ship to sail off until a thorough investigation on the accident was held! Animals' Angels does not have authority to enter the ships at this harbour and thus spent hours trying to reach the RSPCA inspectors which do. However, they did not respond quickly, and when they did they did not take any action.

The ship finally sailed 1 week after its planned sailing date and the welfare of the sheep remains a secret that only the Australian industry knows. Everything was done to keep this news from reaching the public, but Animals' Angels will do its best to inform the public of yet another example of how the industry should not be allowed to police itself and that the RSPCA are not able to respond adequately to welfare problems.

Iris, Christine and I have all been busy with good-looking men in uniforms….the highway police! Iris gave a training session a few weeks ago to the police in Hamburg, and was accompanied by German journalists who aired a documentary about her work on television. Christine has been driving 1600km every week to train police throughout Italy! So far 350 Italian highway police have passed the training and some livestock trucks have already been stopped and inspected by the newly trained staff in Italy.

I was 4 times with 2 different gendarme brigades near Metz and Nancy. On November 22 they invited Animals' Angels and PMAF to run an inspection day on the roads with them. The official veterinarians (DSV) also participate in these trainings we give in France, and the DSV employees from this region were just adorable- they attended all 4 trainings and each time showed us how much better they now knew the legislation! They literally must have spent evenings in bed studying the law because in the end they knew it all by heart. But it was sad to realize that before this training they did not know the animal welfare during transportation laws at all! And these are the people that sign the export papers for animals being transported from one end of Europe to the other!

Melissa in Ontario, Canada has been busy inspecting livestock markets. Last week there was a young heifer which broke her leg at the market. Melissa drew the attention to the market owner about her and inquired into what his plans were. Within 35 minutes someone from "Dead stock" came to shoot her. It is bizarre to consider that good news, because this cow indeed suffered and now is dead, but it was the lesser of two evils- now she at least won't have to be transported and handled at a slaughterhouse with a broken leg. Melissa is also preparing a large report summarizing the main problems still occurring at the markets in Ontario. We will distribute this report to all Ontario officials and the Ministry of Agriculture in the hope that they will allocate more funds towards hiring welfare inspectors for the markets.

Lastly, a few weeks ago there was a documentary about the dog and cat trade in China. It was absolutely shocking- they are transported in chicken cages (and thus not able to stand, stretch or even move), they are completely squished. They are transported over 2000km from the north to the south, a journey which takes several days. The animals don't get any water or food and arrive in a horrible state. At the Chinese markets, the crates are literally dropped or thrown form the top of the truck onto the ground (a distance of 4-5 metres!) They are then placed into bags and boiled alive. I simply could not believe my eyes. As an Animals' Angels inspector one sees a lot of stupidity, even blatant cruelty, but this was even worse- absolute torture. I didn't think that things like this could happen. I am enclosing a pre-written letter. If you wouldn't mind taking some time to simply sign it and mail it off either to your local Chinese embassy, or to the one in Germany- we may be able to make a small difference if many of us give a voice to those animals so far away.