Australian billionaire Gerry Harvey and two NSW knackeries have been implicated in an ex-racehorse slaughter scandal.
Mr Harvey apologised after allegations that one of his studs sent ex-racehorses to a pet food factory came to light in the Victorian Parliament.
The slaughter of ex-racehorses is banned in NSW, but new evidence by animal protection group Farm Transparency Project showed that the practice was still ongoing, including at a stud owned by Mr Harvey, owner of retail giant Harvey Norman.
Hidden camera footage and documentation from an eight-week investigation into Kankool Pet Food, south of Tamworth, depicts branded thoroughbreds being killed weekly, including:
- young unraced horses (one not even two years old)
- former racehorses (one had last raced as recently as December last year, another in October last year)
- former breeding mares (including ex-racers who were ‘retired’ into breeding)
- horses being picked up from, or delivered by, numerous local studs/breeders and a foster mare facility, despite Racing NSW rules prohibiting the slaughter of NSW horses.
Meanwhile, emails and other documentation obtained from Highland Pet Food, north of Armidale, identify four occasions in the past two years in which horses including ‘GH’-branded thoroughbreds were sent from the Gerry Harvey-owned Broombee Stud; and 89 horses sent from Tamac Farm Stud.
Victorian MP for the Animal Justice Party Andy Meddick brought the findings to light in the Victorian Parliament and condemned the racing industry.
“If you support horse racing this spring carnival, you are also supporting the wholesale slaughter of these majestic animals, who deserve so much better,” Mr Meddick said.
Mr Harvey told The Guardian that the situation was an honest mistake and vowed it would never happen again.
“You end up unwittingly in a situation like this, not of your own making,” he said.
“You could argue that I’m the boss so everything has to come back to me. I can’t argue with that, but I’ve got 20,000 people working for me across the world.
“All I can say is sorry it happened; it won’t happen again. I’ve talked to the bloke and that’s all I can say. I don’t think it’s a hanging offence for him under the circumstances.”
While slaughtering racehorses is not illegal in Australia, it is against the rules of Racing NSW, which stipulate that retired racehorses must be rehomed and not sent for slaughter.
Farm Transparency Project executive director Chris Delforce said he was disturbed that the NSW racing rules were not being followed.
“Clearly, the rule implemented by Racing NSW prohibiting this slaughter is nothing but a smokescreen designed to make them look good to the public while doing absolutely nothing to actually address this problem,” Mr Delforce said.
“Given the number of breaches of their rules we’ve uncovered, Racing NSW needs to take some serious responsibility and guarantee a full and open investigation, not an industry whitewash or passing of the buck.
“If their heavily promoted rules are actually useless for horses, that’s something their supporters need to know.”
Are you concerned about the treatment of racehorses in Australia after they retire? Do stories like these make you uncomfortable about betting on the Melbourne Cup?
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