Over the last two years, the Handle with Care coalition campaign – led by WSPA – has successfully worked towards an end to the long distance transport of live animals.
Coalition members were moved to act by the cramped and filthy conditions that millions of goats, sheep, cattle, horses and other species suffer during journeys lasting hours, days or even weeks – only to be slaughtered.
With the chilled and frozen meat trade long since rendering this cruelty a historical throwback, WSPA, Animals Australia, Born Free, Compassion in World Farming, Dyrenes Beskyttelse, Eurogroup, HSUS, RSPCA, RSPCA Australia and World Horse Welfare came together in 2008 to make a coordinated call for the end of long distance transport.
Response from the public, media and politicians has been huge. WSPA owes a big thanks to all our dedicated supporters who took action and made donations.
Together we’re stronger: key achievements for animals
There are significant successes to celebrate as a coalition: we’ve both exposed the reality of long distance transport to new audiences – through investigations, an award-winning film and new book – and motivated decision-makers to act.
Some highlights of the campaign:
The coalition swiftly mobilised national and international support for animals when news broke of a possible resumption in sheep exports from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia. The result: resumption is now off the table, saving at least 50,000 sheep a year from a horrific three-week long journey.
Targeted campaigning saw the transport of live pigs to Hawaii decrease in 2008 and 2009, saving around 3,000 pigs a year from a long road and sea journey. And misleading labelling – claiming that transported animals were “Island Produced Pork” – has been removed from Hawaiian stores following a coalition complaint to the Department of Agriculture.
The innovative Humane Chain website has mobilised tens of thousands of Australians to approach their MPs about the cruelty of live sheep exports. Having kick-started a political debate, we have seen an increasing number of MPs and industry stakeholders publicly expressing their opposition to live animal export.
After dialogue with influential religious leaders in the Middle East, the International Halal Integrity Alliance invited WSPA to produce animal welfare guidelines for a future Global Halal Standard. The standard covers animal health, handling, living conditions and transportation up to the point of slaughter. Already well received, these could impact on 56 countries – a combined population of 1.5 billion.
In Europe, the coalition has worked to improve enforcement of current EU regulations limiting animal transport times; as a result numbers of horses transported from Spain to Italy are declining.
Live animal transport is a big industry with many powerful stakeholders, but thanks to you – the campaign’s many supporters – Handle with Care has managed to place animal welfare at the heart of the debate.
How we’ll continue to fight this cruelty
After a huge amount achieved together, the coalition members are now carrying on individual or joint campaigns in the areas where they can bring the greatest benefit to animals.
WSPA is committed to working where the problem is most severe, targeting the three-week sheep export route from Australia to the Middle East.
In the Middle East we will: continue to collect evidence of the cruelty involved in this trade; focus on lobbying politicians and the meat industry, promoting chilled meat alternatives using up-to-date market research on meat quality and consumer preferences.
In Australia we will continue to grow the Humane Chain, and work with domestic processing stakeholders, to convince politicians and the public that exporting sheep live is both inhumane and damaging to the economy.