Today (Thursday 12 September) marks the first anniversary of the Ramsgate live exports tragedy, yet sadly new government figures reveal that less than 40% of animal transport lorries are being inspected at the port.
At 11am today, the RSPCA along with other animal groups and Kent residents came together at the Port of Ramsgate to lay a floral tribute in remembrance of the 47 sheep that lost their lives at the dock on this day in 2012*.
Gavin Grant, RSPCA Chief Executive said “This incident in 2012 shone a spotlight on the grave shortcomings of a cruel and needless trade and the terrible suffering endured by animals such as sheep and calves travelling in crowded conditions to the continent.
“The Ramsgate sheep tragedy highlighted that problems can and do occur between loading and the long journey to the port, therefore it is unacceptable that thousands of sheep are still going unchecked before they leave our shores. ”
Defra have confirmed, following a Parliamentary Question by Dover and Deal MP, Charlie Elphicke, that since the trade resumed from the Port of Dover on 2 May 2013 only 18 lorries out of the 46 have been subject to further checks before boarding the ‘Joline’ boat.
Ann Adley, Stop Live Exports campaigner from Dover, Kent said “I was there on the day that RSPCA Inspectors and Animal Health officials found sheep on the truck suffering from painful lameness and broken limbs and it is shocking that such an event hasn’t resulted in change.
“It is hard watching the transporters go by week after week, but it is even more heartbreaking knowing that most of those sheep will not be inspected at the port. I am here in Ramsgate today to remember all the victims of live exports”
When the trade operated from Ramsgate, Thanet District Council allowed RSPCA Inspectors to be present during shipments. Now the trade has moved to Dover, there is no RSPCA presence as Dover Harbour Board has refused to let our Inspectors in.
Gavin continued: “Ultimately, we want an end to live exports from the UK, but until that day the government must act and insist that every single lorry carrying live farm animals is thoroughly inspected at the port and we are offering RSPCA assistance to do so”.
*Further details of the incident on 12/9/ 12 in which 47 sheep died:
On the 12 September 2012, a lorry loaded with four tiers of sheep was stopped at the port and decla
red unfit to travel due to faults to the vehicle.
The sheep had to be unloaded while the transporters tried to get another lorry – it was during this time that one sheep had a broken leg and another was also injured. Both were put to sleep on veterinary advice.
In a further tragedy, sheep were loaded into an area where the floor then collapsed – six sheep fell into water and four were rescued by nearby RSPCA officers, but two drowned.
A vet then inspected all the sheep and found that a further 41 were lame and so these animals were also put to sleep to end their suffering.