RSPCA joins calls for long-overdue action on racehorse welfare

Following the exposé on ABC 7.30 last night, Australian racing must no longer deny the need for action to address serious welfare issues in its industry, says RSPCA Australia Acting CEO Dr Bidda Jones.

“Like all Australians who saw last night’s program, we were shocked and horrified – but sadly, not surprised – at the fate of of Australian thoroughbred and harness racing horses sent for slaughter, and the industry’s alarming lack of acknowledgement or control over this.

“There are two issues here: first, the appalling handling and slaughter practices at the Queensland abattoir shown – Meramist Abattoir at Caboolture – which, as an export abattoir, comes under federal government regulation.

“And second, the oversupply and wastage of horses in the racing industry which has led to these horses ending up at abattoirs or knackeries.

“What has been allowed to take place at the abattoir should be a matter for urgent investigation and intervention by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

“However, the Australian racing industry cannot claim to be surprised by this footage, and must not be allowed to dodge their responsibiltiy for the numbers of horses that are being bred, as well as those ultimately sent to slaughter. 

“The RSPCA along with many other welfare groups has urged action to reduce wastage and improve standards when horses are slaughtered for years.

“Sadly, Australian racing authorities have become experts in ignoring the obvious, because it doesn’t fit with their desired image.

“Racing authoirities repeatedly claim that animal welfare is ‘paramount’, yet they don’t want to admit that racehorses are being slaughtered or to admit they should take responsibility for ensuring that horses are treated well throughout their lives – not just when they are generating a profit.

“To put it bluntly, Racing Australia, Harness Racing Australia, and the state racing bodies need to get real.

“It’s clear they have completely lost control of the way racehorses are managed in their industry, from how they are treated while training and racing, to their fate after racing.  

“As a matter of urgency, they must put measures in place to ensure the number of horses prematurely exiting racing is dramatically reduced, and put proper standards and monitoring in place to ensure all racehorses have humane treatment throughout their lives, from beginning to end,” said Dr Jones.