The video sequences
released last year by the animal rights organization PEA reveal serious violations of the Swiss Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by slaughterhouse employees in Avenches and Moudon. The video material shows workers handling animals very roughly and using stunning equipment improperly. This causes the animals considerable and unnecessary pain, suffering, and damage during the slaughter process and thus constitutes abuse pursuant to article 26 paragraph 1 litera a AWA. The improper use of stunning equipment also violates the Ordinance of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) on animal welfare during slaughter as well as article 28 paragraph 1 litera f of AWA and can also constitute animal cruelty in the form of killing an animal in a cruel manner pursuant to article 26 paragraph 1 litera b AWA.
In the fall of 2018, TIR filed a criminal complaint with the competent public prosecutor's office against the slaughterhouses of Avenches and Moudon (see TIR news release of October 15, 2018
). In February 2019, the Vaud authorities sentenced a slaughterhouse worker to a fine of 250 francs for violating article 28 paragraph 1 litera f AWA (improper slaughtering) and article 13 of the Ordinance of the FSVO on animal welfare during slaughter (improper animal fixation). The decision was made on the basis of the video sequence from 01:04 to 01:31.
While attempting to stun a goat, one slaughterhouse employee fails to correctly place the electric stun gun between the animal's eyes and ears in order to ensure optimal spanning of the brain. The employee slips while holding the forceps and clamps the animal's nose and mouth section between the electrodes. The animal's ensuing screams and panicky reaction indicate that it has suffered a painful electric shock. The goat panics and tries to get away from the employee and the kill floor. The worker makes another attempt to stun the animal only to miss the correct spot again and hit the goat in the chest with the electrodes. Again, the goat cries out indicating that the animal has suffered another electric shock. The animal then manages to jump over the barriers and is caught by the slaughterhouse worker, who grabs it by its hind legs and tries to drag it back over the barrier onto the kill floor. His first attempt fails, so a second slaughterhouse worker comes and grabs the animal by the horns. Together they lift the goat back over the barrier. Its screams indicate that the rough handling by the men is causing it a great deal of pain and distress.
Due to the considerable pain and suffering inflicted on the goat, it is
clear that the acts involved constitute maltreatment. The maltreatment
of an animal is legally considered as animal cruelty and is therefore
punishable by imprisonment of up to three years or a monetary penalty.
Hence, it is incomprehensible that the public prosecutor's office
qualified the criminal acts described in this case as minor misdemeanors
according to article 28 paragraph 1 AWA and sentenced the perpetrator
to a fine of as little as 250 francs. In our opinion, this is a clear