MILTON, Ontario—An animal welfare complaint has been filed with provincial law enforcement authorities after a video appearing to show a cow moving its head while its skin is hacked off has gone viral on Twitter.
“Under Ontario law, it is illegal to cause animals to be in distress,” said Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Removing the skin of a conscious animal would certainly qualify as causing distress. Authorities must investigate to determine whether the movements depicted in the video were the result of a conscious animal struggling to right itself while being cut up alive.”
Non-stun slaughter is permitted in Canada. Federal policy prohibits suspending or dragging sensible (conscious) animals, and requires immediate corrective action if animals return to sensibility. However, laws regulating slaughter do not apply when people are killing animals for their own consumption.
“It appears from this video that this cow may still be conscious while being skinned,” said Ontario-based veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper said. “It is hard to say definitively that this is the case. Regardless, it is my opinion that non-stun or ritual slaughter is a cruel and inhumane practice and should be banned in this country. This case presents a perfect argument for this, as clearly the people in the video are not trained to asses whether or not the animal is dead prior to being skinned.”
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” The British Veterinary Association, Farm Animal Welfare Council, EU Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have also issued position statements opposing slaughter without stunning.
Many countries have already banned or restricted non-stun slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia.
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