Thousands of racehorses are being sent to slaughterhouses in Britain and Ireland, an investigation aired on BBC has claimed.
Freedom of information requests revealed that 4,000 former racehorses were slaughtered in Britain and Ireland since the beginning of 2019. Most, but not all, were trained in Ireland.
Animal Aid, which has long campaigned for an end to horse racing, set up covert cameras at Drury and Sons, an abattoir in England which has a licence to kill horses.
“When we looked at the footage we were absolutely astounded at the sheer volume of young thoroughbreds,” said Animal Aid spokesman Dene Stansall.
The footage was recorded over four days at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020.
It captured dozens of former racehorses being slaughtered, the majority of them from Ireland and the majority young.
Some of the horses shot in the abattoir had previous illustrious racing careers, winning thousands of dollars.
Animal Aid’s cameras also captured what appear to be breaches of rules designed to protect animals from unnecessary cruelty.
The regulations say horses should not be killed in sight of each other. The footage recorded horses being shot together 26 times over the four days of filming.
Prof Daniel Mills, a veterinary behavioural specialist from the University of Lincoln, who has seen the footage, said: “A gunshot going off is going to be startling, seeing another horse suddenly drop, these are all going to be very distressing for a horse in this situation.”
Also as per regulations every effort should be made to ensure a rapid death, but footage showed it far from instant.
On 91 occasions the cameras recorded a slaughterman shooting horses, not close up, but from a distance.
Reviewing the footage of one such killing, Prof Mills said: “It doesn’t look like the horse is even stunned. You can see it’s turning its head. It seems to have got some control actually over its head and neck.
“Taking a shot from a distance at a horse, to me, that’s completely out of order. If you’re going to euthanise a horse, you’ve got to get a bullet in the right place.
“If that’s representative of how they’re being killed, then we’ve got a really serious problem.”