It's amazing what you find when you cut through the emotion surrounding live export and start looking at the hard figures. Live export boats are often accused of being "Death ships" and are branded "ships of shame" by one group of animal activists.
If you look at the 2011 figures for live export vessels on the DAFF website you will see that Australia exported over 3.3 Million animals that year alone. Sadly some 20,288 animals were lost but that means that 99.39% of all the animals exported arrive alive at their destination. Many of these animals do not just arrive alive, they put on weight. In some cases (Indonesia for example) the exporter is paid by the kilogram on arrival for the animals. It is therefore in the exporters interest to use the ship like a floating feedlot and to keep the animals in a contented condition so that they will continue to put on weight and be worth more money on arrival. Any animal that dies en-rout is also a big hit on profitability, hence the low mortality figures.
If you contrast the figures above with the figures provided in the RSPCA's 2010 to 2011 National Statistics the posturing about mortality's on live export vessels can appear ridiculous!
During this 12 month period the RSPCA euthanized no less that 37,177 Cats and 19,583 Dogs!
Together that's way over double the amount of animals that die on live export vessels.
Now of course some of those animals would be sick, injured, old or simply not fit to be re-homed but the devil here lays in what is not shown in the pie graphs of the statistics.
You see there is no representation here for animals that are held for too long or animals that could not be adopted in time but were otherwise healthy. The kicker is that 29% of dogs and 57.5% of cats were put to sleep while the RSPCA NSW branch alone made a whopping 12 MILLION dollar profit. How many more animals could have been saved or kept longer waiting for adoption with that money?
Given the profits involved, the generous amount of money spent on the RSPCA's live export campaign, the RSPCA's other animals rights campaigns and the threats issued to fund political campaigns against an MP who spoke out in favor of live export it would be fair to ask if the RSPCA is doing enough to look after the animals entrusted to it's care. It is rather sad if your cat has a statistically better chance of surviving on a live export boat than at an RSPCA shelter.
The RSPCA's recent lurching into animal rights really comes up in the national figures with this little pie chart.
You see the RSPCA received some 54,398 cruelty complaints, choosing to prosecute only 275 and nearly half of those are livestock. The RSPCA has an interest in prosecuting farmers wherever possible, farmers have land which they can be forced sell to pay fines and the RSPCA has recently been very happy to hop into bed with anti-farmer groups like Animal Liberation and Animals Australia. Every cruelty case the RSPCA can publicize is a gift to the vegan lobby groups that happily portray one off incidents as common practice and farmers as cruel and ruthless industrialists.
Lets not forget that the RSPCA is often consulted by government on ever tightening farm animal welfare standards in fact few non government organizations have so much input into laws they are then entrusted to enforce. Farmers who abuse their animals deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law however it is worrying governments put so much trust into an organization that targeted farmers so heavily during the live export campaign last year.
The RSPCA is a large organization with a vast reserve of money and political pulling power that will continue to target Australian farmers along with other fringe animal rights groups as long as we allow them too. You can make a difference everyday by donating to local shelters instead of RSPCA owned shelters, sharing this blog or others like it and spreading the word with friends.
If we don't fight, we lose.