Thursday, August 13, 2015

Minister Coveney - are the Animal Collection Services connected to the BSE find this year?

Dear Minister Coveney,
Thank you for your letter saying that you couldn’t influence the local authorities’ choice of contractor to manage the control of horses or control of dogs. I remember you elaborated that the local authorities pay the contractors and then they pass the bill to your department.
I hope you will make an exception in this instance and intervene, making sure that the ACS – Animal Collection Services are stopped in their tracks and all dog and horse pounds and wardenship are re-tendered, going to animal welfare organizations. Not even ‘Agricultural’ Services as some pounds have gone to. Only animal welfare organizations can provide safely the collection, pound and warden services required by law.
You may have read that ACS has recently been exposed as being owned by a Latvian called Dace Inda, based in Riga, Latvia, where the largest rendering plant in Europe is located. This is obviously a huge problem for Ireland as it looks like all our lost and seized animals are being sold rather than rehomed or disposed of when necessary. When animal body parts are made into meat and bone meal, they are used as ingredients in fertilizers but also in animal feeds.
I know they are banned in our food chain and also in the animal food chain for the last 25 years due to the BSE risk. With ACS’ close connections to farmers, councils and such opportunity to access a limitless amount of animals, I ask you to investigate them before another BSE crisis. These local authority contracts are the perfect opportunity for someone to be paid several times over for animals and capitalize on the cheap ingredients (ref:  Irish Field: 3 adverts for ponies and horses. 087 3671185, Carlow 087 9075897 Limerick and 086 6041575 This last one is Emerald Isle Foods, formerly B&F Meats in Kilkenny, one of the main culprits in the horse meat crisis and still trading with the same premises, management and only a new company name).
You need to establish if animal feeds and or other products are finding their way back in to this country.
The collection services collect animals, indiscriminate of their species, condition or what medication they’ve received during their lifetime. They will not tell you what they plan to do with the animal, if it is a sick cow, a pony who has never seen a vet or a race horse who has had Bute, sedatives and yearly vaccinations. Your legislation states they can’t be buried or remain on a farm but does not require a straight answer as to how they are disposed of by these private companies.

BSE is transmitted via meat and bonemeal made up from the ground up remains of cows and pets, when it is fed to cows as a protein supplement.
I am requesting that you establish the origin of that BSE Positive that your vets found in Louth, 3 months ago. The rendering plant – Biovast – actually works within Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus. In any risk assessment process, for the purpose of identifying the potential source of this positive find, your department should at least investigate this possible source. It is likely that it will reveal a massive, gruesome and profitable industry in the hands of people who are not responsible for what happens to the animals or whether we end up eating them.
I ask you to stop the temptation for this level of malpractice and ill treatment of animals and ultimately the food chain. In the absence of control, transparency and penalization, you have a grave situation on your hands. You will have to stop this industry as a whole and make it law that animal services are run by responsible organizations with a background of welfare.  This really is your problem as it seems to span Agriculture; sale and disposing of animals, providing of animal feeds and managing food risks. I understand that you have a conflict of interests with this need to facilitate making a profit from animals and your responsibility for Animal Welfare Legislation but none the less you have to do it.

Puppy farms are now coming into Agriculture territory too. It is no coincidence that James Kavanagh, who was recently arrested for his obscene puppy farm in Carlow (where horses were left to die and become food for the sick bitches) also applied for the Carlow Kilkenny Dog Pound. These tenders are so open to abuse. 
The horses are somewhat protected in Co. Clare as the dog warden and various shelters are called to stray horses first. In Kilkenny no such filter applies. The guards call the ACS immediately and that is even if the horses are just in the wrong field, let alone out on the road by mistake. It is obvious that everyone involved is profiting to a certain extent. The ACS in Kilkenny City alone, in the first five months of this year, collected 59 horses and killed them all. I believe it is within your capacity to correct this situation and see where their large burial ground or incinerators are or if they are just mincing them up and selling them on.
In summary, I ask you to
1. Stop the temptation to this industry by outlawing the awarding of local authority contracts to private companies, to provide public services (this could apply to all services for all vulnerable groups in society)
2. To investigate the rendering plant in Latvia as the possible source of the BSE Positive find in Louth this year.
3. Establish if there is a connection between our animal collection services and animal by product rendering plants.
4. Enforce the legislation that protects the food chain.
5. Enforce the legislation that says that animal cruelty is a crime. Not allow the sentences and fines to be disputed and minimized after the court decisions.
6. Make Animal Welfare legislation consistent by stopping live animal exports. It is cruelty in itself and there is no way to monitor what happens to animals once they arrive in another country, with different laws. Also the people who are doing the transporting are entirely removed from the well-being or safety of the animals. I know you did not want to look at this issue at the Animal Welfare Conference but now is the time, as it may stop another major food crisis.
7. Check that meat and bonemeal are not being brought in to Ireland, in any form including animal feeds.
8. Be sure that dogs, cats, horses and ill cows are not already in our food chain via products with these ingredients.
9. Insist on total transparency as to how each animal is disposed of.
10. Do not allow Department Approved slaughterhouses but refuse shelters a permit to rescue animals. This is a problem that is wide spread too and causing difficulties for welfare organizations.
11. Make puppy farms illegal. No breeding should be allowed until all the shelters are empty.
12. Expose the corruption and relationships if necessary between gardai, Animal Collection Services, local councils and whatever other reasons for their monopoly on big contracts.
13. Establish in government that money is not an appropriate deciding factor when it comes to offering public services.
14. Do not allow Agricultural Services or vets to be awarded pound contracts either. Where there is profit, there is exploitation and legislation must spell out a not-for-profit service to manage the stray animals.
15. If you are too busy to prioritize this issue, either of BSE or of the animal warden and pound services, please delegate them to someone appropriate.
I myself am willing to help structure a better policy for all animals, be they pets, dogs and horses used for sport , farm animals and wildlife. There are many like me who are knowledgeable and experienced in care, ethics and management who are motivated to make genuine improvements in the culture and management of Ireland’s animals. 
The BSE will always be a risk when animals move into the hands of those that do not care about any expressions of life, only profit.
I look forward to hearing your findings and if you would like further information about the various contracts and companies involved.

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