Why is this an issue?

In October 2019, the community was shocked by stories of retired racehorses being abused and treated badly in knackeries. While this was not occurring in WA, the community awareness of the issue was heightened.

What is a knackery?

A knackery is a facility where animals are killed for pet food, or to make animal by-products used in pet food. In Australia, unlike abattoirs and poultry processors, knackeries are not required to comply with relevant state or territory Food Acts or associated regulations. This is because they produce pet food rather than food for human consumption.

The pet food industry in Australia is essentially self-regulated by the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) with the voluntary Australian Standard for the manufacturing and marketing of pet food.

In WA, knackeries are licensed under the Food Act 2008 and Regulations 2009. Animal welfare is the responsibility of the business. Knackeries in WA commonly kill horses, using a firearm or captive bolt, at the property from which the horse originates, or at the knackery premises, before processing the carcass for pet food. There is potential for poor technique in killing horses or livestock due to lack of audit or regulatory oversite. Breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 can be prosecuted although RSPCA WA Inspectors are currently not permitted to proactively inspect commercial properties, like abattoirs and knackeries, without probable cause.

Other Australian states have similar regulatory frameworks.

While the WA Government has addressed the public outcry surrounding potential questionable activities at knackeries processing racehorses, there is an opportunity to bring a level of transparency to the industry so that they can maintain a social license to continue operating.

You can learn more about how animal welfare is regulated at Australian knackeries here.