Getting Involved: Funnells, Mary King Support World Horse Welfare Efforts to Install CCTV Cameras for British Horse Slaughter

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Equestrian sport stars William and Pippa Funnell delivered signatures on a petition to the British government. The petition pushes the British government to require that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras be installed in British slaughterhouses to record how horses are handled.

The names of British equestrian sport icons are legible among the 43,737 people who signed a World Horse Welfare petition to require the British government to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in British slaughterhouses to record the handling of horses. 

World Horse Welfare believes that the introduction and monitoring of CCTV at all slaughterhouses licensed to take horses in the UK would assist the governmental FSA (Food Standards Agency) in their duty of enforcement so that cruelty like what happened inside a UK abattoir this year can be prevented from happening again. 

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The popular petition was signed by British Olympic three-day eventing sportswomen, Mary King and Pippa Funnell, and Funnell's show jumping husband, William. The Funnells handed the petition over to the government agency Defra office last week. 

The petition comes on the heels of controversial comments by Great Britain's Princess Anne, president of World Horse Welfare, during a speech in November at the charity's annual conference. She called for re-examining horse slaughter and the possibility of using slaughter values of horses to encourage better care of horses that will end up being sold for food. 

World Horse Welfare launched the petition after it was asked by Sky News broadcasters to review undercover footage filmed at a slaughterhouse in Cheshire, England. The charity was appalled at the breaches of British laws meant to protect horses at slaughter. Violations included horses being beaten, dispatched (killed) in view of other horses, and other inhumane treatment.

World Horse Welfare called for the suspension of all activities at the plant until new systems ensuring humane treatment were put in place. The slaughterhouse was subsequently ordered to close temporarily--not on welfare grounds, but because the FSA said that the establishment did not meet all the infrastructure requirements that permit the safe production of meat. 

The undercover film came on the heels of a widespread scandal in Great Britain uncovering incorrect labeling of prepared foods that were found to contain some percentage of horse meat. The products were fraudulently labeled as beef. 

Horse slaughter is legal in Great Britain although the meat is not widely eaten in that nation. World Horse Welfare contends that slaughter reform should focus on aspects like requiring CCTV and reforming the travel conditions for horses in eastern Europe hauled very long distances in order to be slaughtered for human consumption. British law requires that horses intended for slaughter must be managed according to guidelines meant to prevent contamination of meat by carcinogenic medications. 

World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers said in a longer statement, “We have already seen what dire effect complacency has when it comes to regulation of the meat trade, causing extreme welfare issues -– and consumer mistrust. We must take every precaution to consider the welfare of our animals to ensure that they are not subject to long and painful deaths and show that there is no room for complacency inside Britain’s slaughterhouses.” 

According to World Horse Welfare, the benefits of CCTV at slaughter plants include that they:

• Can be installed into spaces where an inspector cannot safely be present - such as in the ‘stun box'. 

• Will always be present, unlike inspectors.

• Cannot be intimidated, unlike an inspector.

• Produce a permanent record, allowing both good and bad practice to be identified and used in training for slaughterhouse employees.

• Will help counter any malicious accusations against the proprietors or employees of licensed premises and permit proprietors to demonstrate that they treat horses humanely.

• Can be viewed securely from any location, offering more flexibility for the FSA and could even save money if they replace some on-site monitors.

• Will help improve public confidence that animals will be slaughtered humanely.

• Will allow the British public to feel confident that British meat, which has a reputation as a high welfare product, is the result of humane slaughter procedures.

Pippa Funnell, the first (and so far, the only) rider to win eventing's Rolex Grand Slam by winning 4-star events at Badminton, Kentucky and Burghley in one year, is a trustee of World Horse Welfare. Her husband, William Funnell, is an international show jumper. His 12-year-old stallion Billy Congo finished in the #2 position on the Longines Global Champions Tour for 2013.

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