If you asked most people for a definition of hell they would likely talk about images of fire and torment in some type of afterlife scenario. For billions of animals a year, their entire existence is one human-created hell after another. And one of the last tortures that they endure may be considered one of the worst: live animal transport to a slaughterhouse.
Born Into A Hell With No Escape
Animals born on factory farms have a short, miserable life ahead of them. These farms are filled with sentient beings who grow up in horrendous conditions that are unlike their natural habitat. Farmed animals begin and live in confined, small spaces for their entire lives. Some animals never see the sun or feel the grass under their feet.
As if their living conditions aren’t horrific enough, most animals raised on factory farms are often mistreated and abused by the humans tasked with their care. These animals endure endless atrocities beginning moments after they are born. And then, to top off this sad existence, most will be subjected to a long, arduous live animal transport journey on their way to slaughter. It is not bad enough that they have lived their entire lives in a manufactured hell. They spend their last days on a long, terrifying journey to their deaths.
Live Animal Transport
Many farm animals endure numerous trips throughout their lifetime. Before their final trip to the slaughterhouse, factory-farmed animals are transported to various locations for different stages of production, such as breeding or fattening. After those, the most common destinations are auctions and slaughterhouses. Animals destined for auctions may experience multiple trips before being sold.
The meat industry has undergone much consolidation over the past few decades. This consolidation means there are fewer slaughterhouses than in the past. The result is more extended transport from farm to slaughter for the unfortunate farmed animals in their care.
Railroads were the main form of live transport in the late 1800s, but today, 18-wheeler trucks are the most common type of domestic transport. The conditions animals experience during live transport are usually inexcusable despite legislation such as the “28 Hour Law,” created to “protect” farm animals during travel.
The 28 Hour Law
The “28 Hour Law” was enacted in 1873 and required vehicles transporting animals to stop every 28 hours and give animals food, water, and time and space to exercise. Transporters get around this law in multiple ways. For example, the “28 Hour Law” does not apply to trucks with a supply of food and water the animals can access. And it doesn’t even apply to all farmed animals like turkeys and chickens, who have even less protection than cows or pigs.
Animals are often given no food or water during transport that could last 24-48 hours or more. They are thrown into trailers with no bedding or room to sit and lie down. Once loaded they stand in each other’s excrement, urine, and vomit for days on end unable to rest the entire time.
Live Animal Transport Injuries
Many are injured as their frightened companions trample each other and fight for space. Some freeze to the sides of the cold, metal trailer in cold conditions. In hot conditions, animals can die from heat exhaustion. Downed or disoriented animals are often shocked with electrical prods, beaten, or dragged with tractors or other heavy machinery during loading or unloading.
These brutal live animal transport practices typically lead to more injuries as animals struggle in fear. Around the globe, about 160 million farm animals are transported each day. A large percentage of transported animals do not even survive the journey. The United States slaughters around twenty-five million each day. About 9% of those animals never even make it to the slaughterhouse because of the horrific travel conditions.
International Live Animal Transport
International live animal transport has also increased significantly over the years. Most international live transport happens by boat, but some occur by flight. Loud noises, inadequate ventilation, heat stress, and even motion sickness are just a few horrors that these animals experience.
Only a few weeks ago over 15,000 sheep were drowned when a live animal transport ship headed to Sudan sank into the Red Sea. It is hard to imagine the horrific conditions that these sheep were crammed into even before they were subjected to the terror of sinking into the ocean.
In one example, over 1,000 dairy cows suffocated to death from ammonia fumes while being transported by boat from Texas to Russia. Another two hundred cows too ill to be offloaded were left unaccounted for, likely ending up in the ocean.
Another example was when over a dozen U.S. cattle carcasses washed up on beaches in Denmark and Sweden from deceased cows thrown overboard into the Baltic Sea after dying during boat transport from the United States to Europe.
Ban Live Animal Transport
At the end of their short, tortured lives, farmed animals are dealt this final insult just before being forced into the hell that is a slaughterhouse. In the best of conditions, animals are still stressed and afraid. They can be overwhelmed with sights, sounds, and smells they have never encountered before.
Even if live transport were like luxury travel, these sentient beings would still experience this stress and fear. When you add the cruel and unacceptable conditions most often witnessed, it entirely adds another element of anxiety and stress. It’s time to end factory farming and all of the cruel, inhumane treatment that it causes our fellow earthlings.