The Church and animal cruelty

The Church and animal cruelty

In June, an Australians for Animals Inc. coordinator was banging on the doors of the mainstream churches seeking their support for a desperately needed increase in Inspectors who can police the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act on the mid and Far North Coast of New South Wales.

Sue Arnold wrote,

Animal cruelty is out of control with a huge increase in the population and one sole RSPCA Inspector, whose area ranges from Coffs Harbor to the Queensland border.

In spite of all the efforts of local shelters up and down the coast who have lobbied for years for an increase, the NSW State government under the ALP and the Coalition have remained mute, hands over ears, ignoring the problem.

With the exception of the Catholic Bishop of Lismore who listened carefully and with great compassion to AFA’s request for the support of the Catholic church in calling on the government to immediately provide funding for more inspectors, the mainstream churches can be put in the same basket as the state government.

Bishop Jarrett at Lismore’s Catholic Cathedral was happy to agree to a local priest being present in a press conference which AFA put together with the kind assistance and support of Lismore’s Mayor, Jenny Dowell.

Bishop Jarrett completely understands the relationship between animal cruelty, child abuse, domestic abuse and the growing research which demonstrates that the majority of violent crime starts with animal abuse.

The Anglican Bishop of Grafton Keith Slater was just too busy to be bothered with providing a member of the clergy to attend a press conference on animal welfare issues.

In spite of many phone calls and emails to his personal assistant, he couldn’t even find the time to send a letter of support.

One Anglican Minister in Lismore dismissed AFA’s call with, “What do you want? We already have a blessing of the animals.”

In fact, the Anglican minister in Lismore was downright dismissive.

The Uniting Church couldn’t be bothered responding to emails or phone calls. Neither minister replied!

Buddhists were on retreat. No one was available.

This is a shocking state of affairs.

God’s creation, according to the Anglican and Uniting Churches, appears to centre, as always, on human beings.

It’s hard to believe that ministers of religion can be so blatantly ignorant of the suffering of animals or the links between animal abuse and human abuse.

Is there another side to this?

How does the Church respond to these indictments?

Should Christians champion the cause of “Animal Rights”?

Is the Uniting Church dismissive of the rights of animals and the ‘quality of Life’ that should be accorded to them?

Department of Animals, Fisheries and Forestry statement on the the live animal export trade

The Australian Government does not tolerate cruelty towards animals and will not compromise on animal welfare standards …

The Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) investigates all consignments which record a reportable mortality event.

A reportable mortality event occurs in a consignment if the mortality rate is equal to, or exceeds, the reportable level specified in the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

For cattle, sheep and goats these levels are:

  • Sheep and goats: 2%
  • Cattle voyages greater than or equal to ten days (long haul): 1%
  • Cattle voyages less than ten days (short haul): 0.5% …

Some voyages include several consignments for different exporters, so it is possible for a consignment to experience a high mortality incident, but for the outcome of other consignments on the same voyage to be under the reportable mortality level. For this reason, some of the consignment mortality events may not appear in the report to Parliament, which is tabled every six months.

How many animals died or were ‘lost at sea’?

In 2011 approximately 2.5 million sheep and 1 million cattle were exported.

Of these approximately 20,000 sheep (0.8%) and 1,000 cattle (0.1%) died.

These numbers were “under the reportable mortality level” so the exporters did not have to tell parliament that 21,000 animals died on the ships and were “lost at sea”.

The Australian people are also left ignorant of these facts.

The figures above only represent the number of animals who actually die during the voyage.

The Australian people are not made aware of the injuries and diseases which the animals suffer.

The animals spend a lot of time standing in their own urine and faeces thus their hooves can become diseased and may drop off. When they become so lame that they can not stand and have to lie down in their urine and faeces; they develop pressure sores on their elbows and knees which then become infected.

Another problem is the heat and ammonia levels.

On the upper decks the problem is less because the winds blow the ammonia away and cool the atmosphere.

The lower decks are only ventilated by air conditioning thus temperature and ammonia levels rise.

When the decks are cleaned, they are washed from the upper decks down.

The lower the decks have greater contamination resulting in higher temperatures and ammonia levels.

These can reach levels which are toxic to both animal and human life.

This problem is a much greater when the air conditioning fails.

What can be done?

Animals can be and should be slaughtered humanely!

Although the veterinary profession are rightfully the “Guardians of Animal Welfare” in Australia, their position and advice are not heeded or acted upon because of the political, religious and vested interest.

Support is needed urgently.

The Church, with all it espouses about God’s Creation, is beholden to act when the welfare of animals is compromised.

Christ went to the market place and overturned the tables;

He cast out the animal traders and the money changers.

Christ challenged the “rulers and Pharisees” of the day.

Christ set an example for others to follow?

In the year 2012 what would Christ expect of His “disciples”?

Would He “cast you out” because you have failed in your duty of care to his Fathers creation?

Will we just “Wash our hands” of the welfare of animals?

Will the Uniting Church in Australia take a stand on this issue?

Rob Wansbrough, Epping Uniting Church

See also:

Ludwig defends sheep exports in face of slaughter claims

World Animal Day is October 4.

Church inaction compounds animal cruelty

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Animal Rights Advocates

Animals Australia

Animal Liberation



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