19 May 1995

Vets fight exports

VETS have joined Compassion in World Farmings campaign to stop live exports.

Six practising vets, at a press conference on Wednesday, condemned their professions involvement in the export trade.

They called on their governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, to take a strong moral position against the signing of export certificates. Animals cannot leave this country without an export certificate signed by a vet.

The RCVSs current position is that the signing of export certificates should be left to the vets own judgement.

RCVS president Neal King said the College was unhappy with close confinement of calves in veal crates and that the RCVS would happily work towards banning them in Europe.

But despite this position he saw no conflict with vets signing export certificates for calves which were destined for veal crates. He said the veterinary involvement was simply to certify that the animals were free from disease, and fit to travel.

But the vets who joined CIWF insisted that was not good enough. Nigel Taylor, in practice near Plymouth, said: "I think it is unacceptable for our profession to have any involvement in a trade where there have been countless incidents of animals suffering long journeys to abattoirs where humane dispatch is very much a lottery."

"We should stand up and be counted on matters of animal welfare. We are signing certificates that condemn animals to a black-hole of welfare and we should stop it."

David Redfern, in practice near Canterbury, said he found it unbelievable that calves could be exported to veal crates when they were illegal in the UK.

"The logical conclusion is that the next thing we will do is start exporting sows to be tethered in Holland once our stall and tether ban comes into force here," he said.

David Coffey from Esher said all vets made a declaration when they qualified that their constant endeavour would be to ensure the welfare of animals committed to their care.

He said that signing export certificates contravened this declaration and added that it was time for the RCVS to take the lead on welfare. CIWF has written to every practising vet in the country asking for their support.