We are calling on the government to follow its own guidance on the export of live farm animals after new information revealed welfare checks apparently not being carried out in line with government commitments.

Nine months ago Animal Welfare Minister David Heath MP changed the welfare checks required to export live animals to the continent. He said every consignment would be checked at loading and a proportion again at the port of departure until the government were entirely satisfied there was no risk to the welfare of animals.

Today, we can reveal this is not the case. Despite the ministerial commitment, some animals are not being checked at the point of loading and less than a half of lorries are checked at the port.

RSPCA deputy CEO John Grounds said:

It is completely unacceptable that animals are not being checked at loading despite a ministerial promise to do so and Animal Health continue to only check around one in three lorries at the port. This trade involves living creatures, not tins of beans.”

We would expect the government to step up its inspections

Additional government information shows that seven non-compliance notices have been issued by the government in the past year and in September one lorry was prevented from continuing on its journey at the port as it did not comply with the legislation.

In a parliamentary answer the Minister has admitted that the lorry was only stopped as it has not been checked at the point of loading despite a reassurance two days earlier that all shipments of animals were checked at loading.

Grounds continued:

“It is extremely concerning that our government cannot provide clear and transparent information about its checks on these animals. If UK and EU legislation continues to be flouted by the exporters, we would expect our government to step up its inspections and ensure the animals are protected by the laws in place to do so.”

We are offering the support of our inspectors

The trade in live farm animals involves sheep and calves being exported for hours or even days, in some cases only to be slaughtered at their destination on the continent. We are calling for an end to all live transport and for all meat to be transported ‘on the hook’.

The live export trade resumed from the Port of Dover in May, following two years of operating from Ramsgate. We have been calling for both Dover Harbour Board and Animal Health to allow our inspectors into the port, as they were in Ramsgate.

John Grounds added:

“If the government doesn’t have the resources to ensure full monitoring at loading and again at the port, we are offering the support of RSPCA Inspectors. I hope they will accept our offer of assistance in ensuring the welfare of animals.”

Take action

Take action today – email Tim Waggot, Dover Harbour board chief executive asking him to accept the offer from our inspectors to monitor the trade.

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