Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cattle deaths lead US groups to demand suspension of livestock trade between Russian Federation and the United States

Animal Welfare Institute

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) are urging the Russian Federation to suspend imports of cattle by sea from the United States. This request from animal welfare organizations follows an incident in September in which more than 1,000 out of 3,400 breeding dairy cattle from one U.S. shipment died en route to Russia or had to be euthanized upon arrival due to their extremely poor condition.

Initial reports indicate that the incident may have been caused by a breakdown in manure removal and ventilation systems on the Pearl of Para, the vessel transporting the cattle. According to a statement by the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, 178 animals died on board; 59 more died during transport to the farms of destination; 160 died during the quarantine period on the farms; 180 were emergency slaughtered, and another 665 were expected to be emergency slaughtered due to extreme ill health.

Another 195 animals were not accepted at port and remained on the vessel to be returned to the United States. As far as CIWF and AWI are aware, this ship did not return to the US and the location, health and welfare of these cattle remains unanswered. Furthermore, the organizations have learned of an additional shipment of cattle from the United States that left in early September and is due to arrive in the Russian Federation this week.

Leah Garces, USA Director for Compassion in World Farming said, "How the United States could send yet another shipment of pregnant cattle, when they haven't even answered for the deaths of over a 1,000 animals from the last shipment, is unfathomable. This is a cruel and unnecessary trade and we are calling on the Russian Federation to suspend all trade of cattle by sea with the United States."

In her letter to Nikolai Fyodorov, Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, AWI president Cathy Liss said, "We fear further animal suffering and loss of life if strong action is not taken," and asked the Ministry to immediately suspend imports of cattle from the United States by sea.

Photos accompanying the Russian officials' statement depict thin, dead or dying cattle lying in several inches of filth next to empty feed or water containers. Russian veterinary officials claim that the United States is not in compliance with international standards for the transport of animals by sea and that "extremely grave deficiencies in animal safety" have been identified in shipments of live animals from the United States that resulted in injury and death. Although the incident at issue occurred six weeks ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services—the program responsible for inspecting animals and the oceangoing vessels used to export them—has yet to provide any explanation for the deaths.

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!