Following our recent interview with a PETA representative on the importation of sheep from Australia to Bahrain, we follow up with a response from the company transporting the animals. Statistics provided by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) claimed that many of the animals exported die or are mistreated in transit, something that Peter Dundon of Meat & Livestock Australia is quick to challenge.

‘We are serious about ensuring our animals arrive fit and healthy in the Middle East, and we spend time, money and resources to ensure this happens,’ Peter explains. ‘We also invest in further developing infrastructure in the Middle East to make sure our livestock continue to be well managed when they arrive.’

But if this is the case, why the harsh response from activists? ‘We’re the only country in the world to do this,’ Peter stresses. ‘And because we care we’re often left open to criticism from activist groups who know they wouldn’t get a response from other countries who don’t share our commitment to animal welfare.’

It is a different story to the one found on PETA’s website, which lists details of how many sheep are imported to the Middle East, with footage of the conditions they are allegedly transported under, and even a plea from pop singer Pink about putting an end to their suffering and stopping the trade.

In response, Peter explains that government-accredited Australian veterinarians check the animals and give any required immunisations before travelling, with a feedlot to help them adjust to onboard feeding being their first stop before being placed on the boat – and that’s if they are selected to travel, as only the fittest animals are chosen. The sheep travel in pens, he says, with room to move and lie down, and there is constant access to food and water. Stockmen and veterinarians check the pens each morning and afternoon, and any animal deemed unwell is treated immediately.

Ashley Fruno from PETA is, however, adamant: ‘Animals travel further when coming from Australia than from any other country in the world. They are seen as commodities, not living, breathing beings. The stress, fear and suffering caused by the Australian live export industry is simply indefensible and wrong.’

Peter concludes: ‘Middle East consumers can be confident they are eating the healthiest, freshest, safest meat from animals that have been well cared for during every stage of the journey from Australia.’ It may be a different story to that on the lips of most animal welfare activists, but one thing is certain – every action has a reaction, especially when it comes to the welfare of animals.
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