Members of an international animal rights group called Animal Angels visited the weekly prime sheep and lamb sale at Griffith Saleyards last Friday, allegedly taking photos and making notes on livestock sale processes.
It is understood four women from the group, whose head office is in Germany, have been attending livestock saleyards across NSW and Victoria in recent weeks. The “Angels” were also at two Western Australian saleyards earlier this year.
After doing their inspections, the group publish a write up of their findings on their “inspections” on the Animal Angels website.
Their website says the group aims to assert “the right of animals to life, liberty and happiness”
Rankins Springs farmer Mark Dwyer informed The Area News, “these people toured the yards ‘inspecting’ stock, accompanied and monitored by a very diplomatic site manager. They photographed activities and made notes whilst most of the other attendants at the sale went about their business largely unaware of the(ir) presence...”.
“This group is a seemingly well-resourced European based bunch of activists, whose main target is apparently to halt the transportation of livestock.”
“The[ir] website includes a link to a memorial page for livestock, with names, that have apparently perished during transport and are now in animal ‘heaven’”.
Mr Dwyer said he was concerned the activists may be pulling the wool over producers’ eyes.
“What I find so annoying about groups such as this is that they claim an authority and even some sort of moral superiority over others, in this case competent and experienced livestock producers and handlers”.
Mr Dwyer also said he felt producers attending the sales have the right to know that Animal Angels are there, and what they are doing.
Dawn Lowe, of Animal Angels, said her group are appropriately qualified, and seek cooperation where they visit.
“Animals' Angels has over 14 years’ experience on the ground, working with enforcement authorities, saleyard management and their representatives and expert veterinarians when visiting saleyards and other animal facilities. Our visits are conducted in the company of independent veterinarians, almost without exception”.
Ms Lowe said their visits are made with the cooperation and support of Ms Kate McGilvray, CEO Australian Livestock Markets Australia.
While Animal Angels have “inspection” write ups on their websites, Ms Lowe said:
“Animals' Angels has never claimed to be 'inspectors'. Indeed, under the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, section 28A, it is a criminal offence so to do”.
Joseph Puntoriero, branch manager of Landmark Griffith, said he felt the visit was “unnecessary”.
“All our agents hold animal safety as our highest priority”.
Mr Dwyer said, “I urge livestock producers to remain aware of the activities of these groups, ill informed but passionate activists all too often get all the oxygen when it comes to debates about agricultural production, particularly livestock”.
“There were over 11000 fit, healthy and unstressed sheep sold last Friday, a credit to all involved as usual, but don’t count on that making the news in a crisis”.
“I wonder why they don’t go to Syria and save those cats and dogs who are getting bombed”.
Prime lamb and sheep sales are on at Griffith saleyards every Friday from 10am.