Animal Aid

FOOT AND MOUTH - Thousands of piglets, lambs and calves being culled by methods too cruel for US vets

Posted 12 June 2001

Animal Aid calls for the resignation of the president of the RCVS:

Thousands of baby pigs, lambs and calves have been killed under the foot and mouth emergency measures by a method outlawed by the American Veterinary Medical Association because they consider it too cruel.

The method - which involves injecting a drug directly into the heart - nonetheless has the backing of Roger Eddy, the president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the body in charge of setting and monitoring standards throughout the profession.

Mr Eddy has even admitted, in correspondence with Animal Aid, that he has used what is known as intracardiac injection himself on dogs, cats, lambs, piglets, and 'on one or two occasions, calves'.

The 2000 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia was unequivocal. It stated:

"Intracardiac injection must only be used if the animal is heavily sedated, unconscious or anesthetised". (JAVMA, Vol 218, No.5, March 1, 2001, p680)

Animal Aid, the UK's leading animal rights group, has called upon the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to order the immediate cessation of intracardiac injection by f&m killing gangs. It has also demanded that the RCVS president resign his post.

Animal Aid's concerns are echoed by Ivan Walton, a veterinary surgeon with more than 20 years experience. Mr Walton has asked for the RCVS's disciplinary committee to launch a formal investigation into its own president. Animal Aid has also written to the disciplinary committee with the same demand.

Adult animals targeted under the f&m cull are despatched by a gun that fires a retractable metal bolt - a method that also poses major welfare concerns. The skulls of younger animals are considered too soft for the bolt gun to achieve the necessary concussive effect - and so lethal injections are administered.

While the RCVS president is content for I/C injection to be used for the foot and mouth cull, he qualified his endorsement, in correspondence with Animal Aid, by stating that a sharp needle had to be employed. Animal Aid is concerned that each needle is being used many times when despatching these young animals, thereby increasing the chances of additional pain and trauma. This would help explain why reports are circulating of so many unclean kills and of animals being bludgeoned to put them out of their misery.

Animal Aid was itself contacted by a member of a killing gang in Dumfries and Galloway who had seen injected lambs writhing on the ground and taking a long time to die. He was very distressed.

Animal Aid promotes an animal-free diet and opposes, equally, the foot and mouth cull and everyday farm animal 'production' and slaughter. But since millions of animals are being destroyed under the f&m emergency measures, the society argues that the least painful and stressful methods should be used.

Ivan Walton insists that a kinder way of killing the young would be to administer 'presedation to the point of coma. This could easily and painlessly be done with drugs such as xylazine, Then the animals could be shot with a smallbore free bullet or injected with a lethal drug.'

Says Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler:

"It seems that, for the convenience of the killing gangs, these very young animals are being put through totally unnecessary additional pain and trauma. The American veterinary authorities recognise that this is wrong, but the president of the leading UK professional body defends injections into the heart. We demand an immediate end to this brutal activity and we demand that Mr Eddy resigns his post."

All correspondence between the RCVS and Animal Aid - including our letter calling the president's resignation - can be viewed here, or emailed on request.

Notes to Editors

  • For more information contact Yvonne Taylor or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.

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