It’s a far cry from the cosy world of James Herriot with whom Thirsk has been associated for decades, for this is no tale of vets trying to alleviate animal suffering, but of sadistic practices in a North Yorkshire halal abattoir. Not only are animals slaughtered legally on the premises of Bowood Lamb, employing halal methods which inflict unnecessary and avoidable suffering, but a number of Muslim slaughtermen working at the facility have routinely added an additional layer of gratuitous cruelty to the process. This was uncovered by an investigation undertaken by Animal Aid carried out over three days last December which revealed:
- Sheep kicked in the face; smashed into solid objects headfirst; picked up and hurled by legs, fleeces, throats and ears.
- A worker standing on the neck of a conscious sheep, then bouncing up and down.
- Slaughterhouse workers erupting into laughter at a sheep bleeding to death with spectacles drawn around her eyes in green paint.
- A worker holding a sheep by her throat and pulling back a fist as if to punch her.
- Slaughtermen taunting and frightening the sheep by waving knives, smacking them on the head and shouting at them.
- Slaughtermen hacking away at the throats of still-conscious sheep.
- There can be no justification for such maltreatment of animals, just as there can be no rational justification for either halal or kosher slaughter without pre-stunning.
It probably came as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that the North Yorkshire town of Thirsk was home to a halal abattoir. That such a business can be operating in an English market town goes some way to explaining how it is that such a large percentage of lamb in this country – some 37% last year – is slaughtered in accordance with halal practices, given that it far exceeds the percentage of the population of this country that is Muslim. It raises the question as to how many of us are unknowingly and unwittingly eating halal-slaughtered meat, when if we knew that this were the case, would be sure not to purchase the said product.
If you wish to see an end to the practice of religious slaughter without pre-stunning, then I would urge you to sign the ‘End non-stun slaughter to promote animal welfare’petition that as of this evening had garnered over 107,000 signatures. Furthermore, an additional petition has been created entitled ‘Make CCTV mandatory for all slaughterhouses’, calling upon Parliament to legislate with a view to stopping abuses such as those filmed by Animal Aid at Bowood Lamb in Thirsk. When I viewed it this evening, it had gained over 88,000 signatures. If it receives over 100,000, it will have to be debated in Parliament.