18 October 2019

  • The welfare of animals for pet food should be equal to that of animals for human consumption.
  • Animals for pet food may already be injured or sick.
  • Pet food abattoirs (or “knackeries”) should have CCTV, an independent vet and be subjected to compliance inspections.

RSPCA WA says animals destined for pet food are treated as “second class animals” and has called for greater oversight of the industry.

RSPCA WA Chair, Lynne Bradshaw AM, criticised the lack of transparency around the welfare of animals destined for slaughter for pet food after shocking video footage showing racehorses being cruelly treated in abattoirs emerged in the news media yesterday.

She said while the footage was taken in other States, the lack of transparency and largely self-regulation of the pet food industry meant the same practices were likely to be occurring in WA.

Mrs Bradshaw called for increased powers of entry for inspectors to check animal welfare issues, CCTV cameras and an independent vet, not employed by the abattoir, to be onsite to ensure animals were killed humanely. Abattoirs without CCTV and an independent vet should not be registered.

“Pet food animals are treated like second class animals compared to those that are destined for human consumption,” Mrs Bradshaw said. “Their welfare is often already compromised which is why they are deemed to be only suitable for pet food but WA abattoirs where they are slaughtered are rarely checked for compliance with animal welfare legislation and Codes of Practice.

“Animals destined for pet food are often transported to a slaughterhouse when they are already injured, sick or old and frail.

We’ve seen animals transported with broken legs and other injuries and they can be left to continue to suffer while they wait days to be slaughtered.

“Animal welfare inspectors have no powers to enter an abattoir to check on animal welfare, instead they can only investigate when an allegation of animal cruelty is made.

“What this all means is that the public is relying on whistle-blowers, like those who filmed the shocking treatment of those horses, to find out what is going on.

“Because of the compromised welfare of pet food animals, we need more regulation around the way they are handled and slaughtered, not less regulation.”

Mrs Bradshaw said the issue reiterated the need to address powers of entry for animal welfare inspectors in the current review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

“We are encouraged that the Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan, has said this will be looked at as a priority in the review of the Act.”

Mrs Bradshaw said the horse racing industry must urgently address the issue of what happens to horses that are retired from the industry. RSPCA Inspectors were often called out to cases where horses were ill treated or left to starve in paddocks all over WA, many of them former racehorses.

“Those issues can be seen and reported by members of the public but what happens to horses and other animals in abattoirs is behind closed doors and that is not good enough,” Mrs Bradshaw said.