Abattoir At Centre Of Horse Slaughter Scandal Subject To Investigation
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT: A Queensland abattoir at the centre of the horse slaughter scandal is now the target of an investigation after an ABC 7:30 report showed confronting footage of ex-racehorses being killed.
Jockey Laura Cheshire broke down in tears watching her former racehorse be beaten and brutally killed, in the report into mass horse killings in NSW and QLD.
The racehorse, believed to be thoroughbred War's End, was filmed being beaten before being slaughtered by an abattoir worker.
Cheshire, 35, rode the horse for a year and told 10 News First she was shaken by the revelations.
"I just ended up in tears and haven't really stopped crying," Cheshire said.
Her tears came as ABC investigative reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna revealed about 300 racehorses went through the Queensland knackery in just 22 days. They had won combined prizemoney of almost $5 million.
Meldrum-Hanna also said she has seen firsthand “proof of multiple racehorses ending up at (NSW's) Luddenham pet meat after the knackery ban came into force”.
Countless horses were shown in the report being killed back-to-back in vision from covertly-installed cameras, with distinct branding linking them back to major racing studs.
The ABC alleged racehorses are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis, and used for pet food and human consumption.
Reports that hundreds, possibly thousands, of healthy Australian racehorses are being sent to slaughterhouses every year are “upsetting”, the federal government said.
The report has led Queensland racing integrity commissioner Ross Barnett to describe what he saw as "disgusting".
In a press conference on Friday afternoon, QLD state racing minister Stirling Hinchliffe said a meeting with racing stakeholders scheduled for next month has been brought forward in light of the revelations.
"So that we as an industry and other key stakeholders can work together to make sure that we have the best possible regime here in Queensland to look after and rehome these horses," he said.
Racing Australia chief executive Barry O'Farrell said prosecutions "should, and I suspect will occur" following the ABC's investigation.
He also took aim at activists who are believed to have supplied the footage.
"I think the program last night said the activists had been taking vision for a number of years," he said Friday.
"Why wouldn't they have blown the whistle earlier to stop this inhumane treatment?"
He added he still had faith in state regulators, including Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys.
Speaking to 2GB on Friday, V'landys said his office had been receiving "hate mail" after the program aired, and was being told to "get cancer and die".
V'landys said the issues lay with the Queensland jurisdiction.
Elio Celotto, from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, said his organisation had been watching and recording the daily activities of Queensland's Meramist Abattoir for the past two years.
Celotto told the ABC about 4000 racehorses had been killed in the one abattoir alone.
The 7.30 investigation also looked into several NSW facilities.
Slaughter of racehorses is not illegal in Australia, but it is against Racing NSW's policy which specifies all retired racehorses should be rehomed.
“They have now been proven wrong and must own up to the fact that they have a serious welfare problem,” Celotta said.
The investigation found that many of the horses from NSW were being sent interstate for slaughter. They were also still officially listed as being active in racing.
But in its annual reporting, Racing Australia insists less than one percent of racehorses retired from the industry are sent to abattoirs each year, and only in circumstances that are unavoidable.
Based on these allocations, the number of horses slaughtered each year should be just 34.
Renowned Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman, said he was broken-hearted at the ABC report and tweeted his disgust at what he saw on the show last night.
NSW Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi -- whose portfolio includes animal welfare -- said "the horse racing industry has blood on its hands."
"I am absolutely sickened and angered by what this footage shows. It is much worse than what many of us had imagined," she wrote in a post on Facebook.
Faruqi is calling on the Federal Government to urgently establish a national horse traceability register to allow tracking of horses throughout their lives.
"I have long said that when animals and gambling mix, animals always suffer," she said.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson reiterated calls for a national horse register to track the movement of the animals once they have left the racing industry.
The state's peak racing body said it will prioritise an audit of horses that have not raced in the past 18 months in response to the ABC investigation.
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