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Dear Donors and Friends,

Recently Dutch RTL TV News broadcasted undercover footage of slaughterhouse Gosschalk in Epe (the Netherlands), taken by Varkens in Nood. The images are heartbreaking. Pigs and cows are seen being kicked and beaten. Many animals are prodded repeatedly with electric prods. Pigs in a state of shock are seen being dragged by their ears.
 
We are very familiar with this slaughterhouse. For the past four years now we have tried to organize a visit. But time after time the slaughterhouse owner let us know we were not welcome. But then out of the blue, shortly before the RTL broadcast, we received an e-mail asking us for advice on improving animal welfare.
 
We have decided NOT to do this. We very much doubt the sincerity of Gosschalk in their intentions to improve. We fear that they simply want to take advantage of our name to clean up their image, and we will not be used for that.   
 
We also want to send a strong signal to other slaughterhouses that this sort of abuse of animals will not be tolerated and will be penalized. Slaughterhouses like this, with a closed business culture and chronic abuse of animals need to be shut down. End of story.
We prefer to focus our attention on managers of slaughterhouses that do genuinely want to improve. For example, we are working together with a large pig slaughterhouse and machine company on an innovative project to minimize as much as possible the suffering of pigs, from transport to electric stunning. The behavior of pigs is the focus point in the new design. The animals walk in small groups as much as possible, round raceways are being used and there is more time per pig so that stressful and painful handling tools, like prods, become unnecessary. This project has the potential to improve the welfare of pigs in slaughterhouses worldwide.

And more positive news; three Dutch pig slaughterhouses have followed our advice and implemented significant changes. Pali in Geldrop (NL) and VION in Groenlo (NL) have made several adjustments so that pigs experience considerably less stress when moved towards the stunner. Vion in Apeldoorn (NL) is building a large canopy so that there is shade for the pigs that have to wait in trucks during the summer.
Eyes on Animals at work in slaughterhouses to give advice on animal welfare.
Can we guarantee that things don’t go wrong in these slaughterhouses? No. But at least they are open to our visit and have taken concrete actions to reduce the suffering of the animals.

It is a Utopia to think we can slaughter hundreds of pigs per hour without creating fear, making mistakes or without employees becoming frustrated and rough with the animals. On top of that, behind every piece of meat is an animal that really did not want to die. That’s why we encourage people to eat much less meat or even switch over to plant-based.

And if you do eat meat occasionally, support the farms where animals were able to run, play and graze outside and show the kind farmers that run them that their way of farming is valued.
Our philosophy is that the world must evolve to a more plant based agricultural  system. Until this is reality however, our work is unfortunately still indispensable.  
Lesley Moffat
director Eyes on Animals
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