One of the most important animal welfare stories of the year has surfaced today: a UK group called Animal Aid conducted a widespread undercover slaughterhouse investigation, which has uncovered the usual horrifying abuses.
Animal Aid’s investigation differs markedly from the string of cruelty investigations that have occurred in the United States over the past few years. Most of the American investigations were done by Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, HSUS, and PETA, and they all share a common ingredient: an animal advocate gains employment at a facility and secretly shoots video as he goes about his job. By contrast, the Animal Aid investigation was carried out by someone who apparently sneaked into seven slaughterhouses, installing hidden video cameras in each.
There are pluses and minuses to each approach. The obvious plus of Animal Aid’s approach is that you’re getting seven times more video. The minus is that there’s no way to zoom in and get up-close footage of a specific abuser carrying out an act of cruelty. That said, Animal Aid’s cameras managed to clearly catch a wide assortment of horrifying cruelties.
Animal Aid says that six of the seven slaughterhouses they went into were shown to have welfare lapses. The video they’ve compiled is explosive enough that it’s causing a prompt and meaningful government response. The Food Standards Agency is now pushing for the installation of video cameras at all UK slaughterhouses. From there, you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from enacting regulations to stream this footage on the web, and you’re also setting important precedent that the United States and other developed nations would likely follow.
So, it’s very exciting stuff but not everything here is perfect. In contrast to the big American groups mentioned above, each of whom have mastered the tactics required to widely publicize undercover cruelty videos, it appears Animal Aid doesn’t yet understand how to take full advantage of the Internet. Their website’s write-up of the story is minimal, and they haven’t even released the video to YouTube.
But the Guardian story does have an excellent four minute video embedded. So, for now, I think the best way to make sure these animals haven’t suffered in vain is to promote this link through Facebook, Twitter, and email.