Welfare breach comes as Europe rejects million-strong petition for eight hour journey limit
Welfare checks on animals being shipped out of Ramsgate to France have revealed a lorry load of sheep with no drinking water.
RSPCA inspectors joined staff from Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) on the docks yesterday (June 6) and inspections revealed a faulty pump meaning hundreds of sheep had no access to drinking water – a basic legal requirement.
A warning notice was issued and the pump was repaired at the port before the lorry it continued its journey to Calais and then Holland*.
Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animals science team, said: “Drinking water is one of the essential basics that sheep, or any animals, need during a journey which potentially can be long and hot.
“It’s very concerning that a lorry transporting live animals abroad had a faulty water pump but it's a relief that this was rectified so quickly.
A shipment of sheep at Ramsgate
“This breach of welfare rules highlights the need for better enforcement across Europe and a maximum eight hour journey time to help reduce the risk of animals suffering unnecessarily during transportation.”
The latest breach comes as the European Commission rejected a petition signed by more than a million animals lovers and almost 400 MEPs calling for a maximum eight hour journey time**.
David Bowles, director of communications at the RSPCA, said: “More than a million people feel passionately, like the RSPCA, that animals going for slaughter or further fattening should not have to endure journeys of more than eight hours long.
“It is astounding and arrogant that the Commission is ignoring such a groundswell of public feeling and rejecting the petition on a technicality.
“The real victims are the millions of calves, sheep, dogs and horses which can legally be transported all over Europe – some suffering stress and exhaustion, hunger and thirst, extreme temperatures and even death in transit.”
Animal lovers are being urged to tell the European Commission how they feel about long-distance live transport of animals logging onto rspca.org.uk/livetransport
Notes to editors:
— For more information about RSPCA inspections at Ramsgate, the petition, photographs or interviews please call the press office.
— *A superintendent and inspector from the RSPCA and staff from AHVLA checked three lorries carrying 222 calves and 260 sheep at Ramsgate port yesterday (June 6). One lorry was discovered to have a faulty water pump and AHVLA issued a warning notice. The lorry had set off from close to Dover, Kent, and was destined for Holland. It had buckets on board but the driver was still technically in breach of the regulation 1/2005 Annex 1 Chapter VI Para 2.1.It is not a legal requirement for sheep to have continuous access to water during a journey, but only to be offered water at least every 14 hours. Lorries must be equipped with a water supply so the driver can provide water instantly and all animals can access it. All three lorries sailed aboard the Joline to Calais in France.
— **Written Declaration No 49/2011 was signed by 1.1 million people (8hours.eu) and called for the European Commission and Council to review current rules and bring in a maximum eight hour journey time. It was accepted by the European Parliament but has been rejected by the Commission because it does meet the requirements of the citizens initiative which had not even been published when the petition started.
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