‘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.’
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.
More info at www.mla.com.au and www.peta.org