This isn't the post I had planned for today but I had an email this week from a friend who is trying to rescue two donkeys from France. It's one of those all-too-familiar stories - the donkeys are due to be exported to Italy for meat – mortadella and salami, apparently. Now, I fully admit to being one of those people who is somewhat irrationally squeamish about eating some animals while (relatively) cheerfully eating others. Viewed in a purely objective light, it makes little difference whether it is cows or horses, sheep or dogs, but there are animals I will eat, and animals I won't.
What is certainly not irrational, however, is my strong objection to any creature suffering unnecessarily; despite legislation intended to control the live export of animals, each year in Europe up to 100,000 horses and donkeys, as well as thousands of other animals destined for the meat market, are transported in appalling conditions: suffering from thirst and dehydration, overcrowded and exhausted, in temperatures which swing from one extreme to the other. The Handle with Care campaign points out that:
We already have the technology to transport fresh chilled and frozen meat and the science to prove the welfare benefits of local, humane slaughter. For these reasons, long distance transport is not only cruel, it is unnecessary.
So I admire and support my friend's efforts to rescue these two animals and bring them to Scotland to share a home with her own donkeys, and have sent my small contribution. She is hoping to collect £800 for each donkey, and is in contact the Equine Section website, which lists animals and provides information and advice on how to rescue them. I hope to be able to tell you how she gets on. In the meantime, the International League for the Protection of Horses campaigns here for a ban on the export of live horses, while on the Handle with Care website you can sign a petition to stop the transport of all live animals for slaughter.