“Watching it was the most distressing experience I’ve ever had, in 20 years working in animal welfare,” says Bidda Jones, chief scientist of the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). “And the fact that the cruelty was so systemic was extremely disturbing.”
The Australian meat and livestock industry has been training Indonesian slaughterhouse workers for the past decade, but it admitted this week that the treatment of cattle exposed by ABC was unacceptable. “It [the footage] was horrific,” says Mr. Bowen.
In Australia – as in the United States, Canada, and the European Union – cattle must be stunned before being slaughtered. While stunning is less common in developing countries, Indonesia is a signatory to an international standard set by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health that requires animals be slaughtered humanely.
Animal rights groups have long condemned Australia’s live export trade, questioning the conditions in which animals are transported on long sea voyages and the welfare standards at their destinations. Dr. Jones says that it's not uncommon for at least 2 percent of sheep shipped to the Middle East and other regions die en route.