The British Veterinary Association (BVA) e-petition that calls for an end to non-stun slaughter has surpassed the 100,000 signatures needed to secure consideration for parliamentary debate.

The e-petition passed its goal today (January 29), just as news from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Animal Welfare Survey of Slaughterhouses in Great Britain revealed an increase in non-stun slaughter.

The BVA’s campaign calls for the end to slaughter without pre-stunning for all animals as scientific evidence shows non-stun slaughter allows animals to perceive pain and compromises animal welfare.

The veterinary group’s concern does not relate to religious belief, but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter. With 0.1% of e-petitions hitting their target, the group argues reaching the milestone of 100,000 signatures is a significant step towards ending non-stun slaughter and shows the strong public backing for the aims of the campaign.

The FSA survey figures were based on assessments by official veterinarians during the week of September 16 to 22, 2013 to provide a representative sample of welfare practices at 232 red meat slaughterhouses.

The survey results released today show:

· a 31% increase (from 279 to 366) in the number of cattle not stunned before slaughter for halal compared with the FSA’s 2011 welfare survey

· an increase of 56% (from 28,734 to 44,950) of sheep and goats not stunned before slaughter for halal · a small drop of 1.7% in the number of poultry not stunned before slaughter for halal from 582,776 to 572,429

· a decrease in kosher (shechita or non-stunned slaughter) in cattle from 1,314 to 475 (-66%), in sheep and goats from 1,917 to 601 (-68%) and poultry from 71,236 to 21,716 (-69%)

Findings indicate overall the number of animals non-stunned prior to slaughter in Great Britain accounted for 2% of cattle, 15% of sheep and goats and 3% of poultry.

The e-petition will now be considered by the backbench business committee for a debate in the House of Commons.

BVA president John Blackwell said he was pleased the e-petition had reached its goal two months before the official deadline of March 30.

He said: “The success of the e-petition reaching 100,000 signatures two months before the deadline shows the strength of public opinion and support for the aims of our campaign. Slaughter without stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare at the time of death and, as such, we call for an end to its practice. 

“We urge the chairman of the backbench business committee to honour the e-petition and pledge an end to non-stun slaughter will be debated at the first opportunity in the next parliament.”

David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “It is no surprise this petition has exceeded 100,000 signatures in just nine months. There is growing public concern about the welfare of farm animals and people believe animals should be treated as humanely as possible throughout their lives, including at the time of slaughter.

Animal welfare science and practical experience indicate cutting animals’ throats while they are fully conscious can cause significant pain and distress. There should be no exemption under the law to allow non-stun slaughter and we urge politicians to take action on this important issue.”

People can still register their support for the campaign by adding their signature to the e-petition until March 30, when the e-petition will close.

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