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Queensland abattoir to be investigated by police over alleged mistreatment of racehorses

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An abattoir will be investigated by police over the alleged mistreatment of racehorses after explosive footage emerged showing thoroughbreds being abused.

A shocking two-year investigation by the ABC’s 7.30 revealed an alarming number of retired thoroughbreds are being killed for meat for human consumption. 

One abattoir located in Queensland’s south-east, which is alleged to have slaughtered hundreds of racehorses, will now be the focus of an investigation after the footage aired, the Queensland government has announced. 

Distressing footage shows hundreds of healthy racehorses being mistreated and slaughtered for consumption in an investigation some say will 'shake the industry to its core'

Distressing footage shows hundreds of healthy racehorses being mistreated and slaughtered for consumption in an investigation some say will ‘shake the industry to its core’

Queensland Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told the Daily Telegraph the Minister for Agriculture has directed biosecurity officers to go in and investigate animal cruelty allegations at the Meramist Abattoir.

‘They’ll be working I understand with Queensland Police Service to retrieve any extra footage that was not screened by the ABC.

‘Those inspectors going into the abattoir today, they’ll seize all the information they can, they’ll take action against people who committed cruelty against animals.’

Racing Australia’s official data claims about 34 racehorses every year end up at slaughterhouses, a figure amounting to less than one per cent of retiring horses. 

But Elio Celotto from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses told the ABC that about 4,000 racehorses had been killed in one abattoir alone.  

Meramist Abattoir has been the focus of the broadcaster’s investigation and was infiltrated with hidden cameras. 

Shocking vision shows workers at the abattoir mistreating the horses, whipping them, kicking them and even yelling at them

Shocking vision shows workers at the abattoir mistreating the horses, whipping them, kicking them and even yelling at them

An explosive two year investigation into the $1 billion industry conducted by ABC’s 7.30 has blown the lid on the destruction it causes, with horses being mistreated

The cameras showed that in just 22 days, more than 300 racehorses, who won $5million in prize money combined, were killed.

Mr Celotto said even from the property boundary, hundreds of horses can be seen unloaded and abused by workers. 

Shocking vision shows workers at the abattoir mistreating the horses, whipping them, kicking them and even yelling abuse at them.

‘Come on you dumb f***ing horse! F***! You’re dead! You are dead!’ a worker can be heard screaming.

Other workers were shown yelling in glee as they bolted the horses in the head with a stun gun – some up to five times before they died. 

The cameras showed that in just 22 days, more than 300 racehorses, who won $5million in prize money combined, were killed

The cameras showed that in just 22 days, more than 300 racehorses, who won $5million in prize money combined, were killed

Animal welfare and behaviour scientist Professor Paul McGreevy told the ABC there was ‘no way’ the racing industry could defend the behaviour.

‘This is a clear breach of everything the industry has told us. Clearly there’s no excuse for that sort of treatment, that’s not acceptable… and it’s disgusting,’ he said.

‘The truth that’s been revealed by these videos is that thoroughbreds are entering knackeries and abattoirs, and that their treatment within those facilities can be appalling.

‘I think we’re at a fork in the road moment. There’s no denying the footage. This is the sort of material that will shake the industry to its core.’

Sitting and watching the footage, Mr McGreevy became visibly emotional.

The investigation also aired accusations of multiple instances of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouses racehorses are being sent to. 

Australia's greyhound racing industry had to go into damage control after it was revealed trainers were tying live piglets, possums and rabbits to train the dogs

Australia’s greyhound racing industry had to go into damage control after it was revealed trainers were tying live piglets, possums and rabbits to train the dogs

Following the greyhound live-baiting scandal and the momentary banning of the sport

Following the greyhound live-baiting scandal and the momentary banning of the sport

The ABC says despite racing’s peak body implementing rules requiring the registration and tracking of horses from their birth to their retirement, racehorses are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis.

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Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys tod the ABC he was not aware of any NSW racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses.   

However, he said if it is occurring the state body would ‘put the full force of the law’ against offenders.

Following the greyhound live-baiting scandal and the momentary banning of the sport, the NSW horse-racing industry announced they would take a proactive stance on the welfare of horses. 

Australia’s greyhound racing industry had to go into damage control after it was revealed trainers were tying live piglets, possums and rabbits to train the dogs.

The live piglets, possums and rabbits were strapped to lures before being sent around the private tracks before being chased and killed by dogs. 

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird banned greyhound racing in July 2016, only to overturn it in October saying it was the ‘wrong call’.  

Following the scandal, the new animal welfare measures in NSW and the ACT aimed at protecting horses before, during and after their racing careers.

Mr V’landys at the time said every racehorse in NSW would be re-homed and given to someone who wants it.

However, the investigation found many NSW horses were being sent to other states to be killed, even those that were still listed as an active racer.

Professor McGreevy said there’s a grey area in regards to regulation as people are still slaughtering horses and exporting meat to markets in Europe, Russia and Japan.

‘When we bet on horses we are interacting with this industry and we deserve better, the horses deserve better, people who love the industry deserve better. So the industry’s let a lot of people down and a lot of horses down,’ he said.

While Racing Australia claims only one per cent of retired racehorses are sent to abattoirs, Professor McGreevey said more than that is killed in just one week.

Mr V’landys insists that NSW racehorses are being treated well and is unaware of anyone breaking the rules. 

If NSW Racing does find people are breaking the rules, Mr V’landys said they will be dealt with ‘pretty swiftly’. 

But people like Mr Celotto and Professor McGreevey claim the industry has already let down a lot of people and a lot of horses. 

In light of the 7.30 report, punters are threatening to boycott the Melbourne Cup.

‘By the way, will never bet on Melbourne Cup again or any other horse race,’ one user wrote on Facebook.

‘BOYCOTT THE MELBOURNE CUP… horse racing has to end,’ another commented.

‘Everyone should boycott the Spring Racing Carnival. If your workplace has a Melbourne Cup sweep, say no and ask the organiser if he or she really knows what goes on behind the veil of ”glamour”,’ a third said. 

While the majority who watched the report made scathing comments slamming the racing industry, some took to social media claiming it was a ‘media blow-up’ during racing season.

‘Here we go and the once-a-year know it alls start. Why don’t you follow and protest EVERY day of the year, NOT just around Melbourne Cup time?’ one  said.

‘Always comes up around cup time,’ another commented.

‘Must be getting close to Melbourne Cup again. All the half a**ed animal activists come out only this time of year,’ a third wrote.  

Victorian bookmaker Jonathan Walsh said of the report: ‘Considering the improvement that has been made over the last decade it was very poor and typical leftist journalism’.  

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