RSPCA demands transport ban after sheep killed at Ramsgate

The RSPCA has called for an immediate suspension of live animal transport from Ramsgate Port after 45 sheep were killed.

The incident happened after the transporter, carrying more than 500 live sheep on four tiers, was declared unfit to travel on Wednesday (12 September).

The animals had to be removed from the lorry and held in temporary holding pens at the Kent port.

Two of the sheep, one of which had a broken leg, had to be put down immediately. A further 41 severely lame animals will be shot, the RSPCA said.

Two more sheep drowned after the floor of the holding area they were being kept in collapsed. Four others were rescued from the water by RSPCA officers.

“The RSPCA has been warning that a significant welfare incident like this could lead to a tragedy for the animals and now it has.”
Gavin Grant, RSPCA

The lorry drivers – both French – were arrested at the scene.

The incident has led RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant to call for an immediate stop to all live animal transport from Ramsgate.

“We told the port authorities right from the start that they did not have the facilities to handle live exports safely,” said Mr Grant.

“The RSPCA has been warning that a significant welfare incident like this could lead to a tragedy for the animals and now it has.”

He said the RSPCA has fought against such a trade for more than 100 years.

“If meat needs to go to the Continent then it should be on the hook, not on the hoof, and today cruelly illustrates that this appalling trade needs to cease immediately,” he added.

Mr Grant will be meeting with government ministers today (Thursday 13 September) to discuss the issue.

A separate incident saw another lorry loaded with sheep turned away from Ramsgate Port.

Checks by the RSPCA, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the police revealed the transporter to have a broken ramp and partition gates not fitted properly. The sheep also had no access to an on-board water source.

After rectifying the situation the lorry was sent back to Northamptonshire.

According to the RSPCA, Ramsgate is the only British port being used for shipping animals abroad for further fattening and slaughter.

The incidents come after Thanet District Council, which owns the Port of Ramsgate, announced in July that it would like to stop all live animal exports.

Warning: Some readers may find some of the pictures in the gallery below distressing.

  • The sheep at port
  •  The sheep being transported
  •  The sheep being transported
  •  The lorry
  • Dead sheep found after RSPCA inspection
  •  Dead sheep found after an RSPCA inspection

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