'For evil to triumph all that is required is that good men do nothing'
Mrs. E. Jane. M. Barribal & Associates.
2 - Howpark Farm Cottages - Grantshouse - Duns - Berwickshire - TD11 3RP
Tel: 01361 850282 or 01361-850680
Scottish Charity No: SCO32660
'To live in the hearts of those we loved'
At Easter time our thoughts turn to death and resurrection and perhaps the former has been more in the forefront of our minds due to the loss of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. Whether a Royalist or not, no one cannot deny that she was the most remarkable lady and will always be remembered with love an affection by so many. Adored for her strength and gentleness, wisdom and humour and above all for her love and respect for her fellow man and the animals. With respect, I would like to draw attention to this love and respect we should show in the same way.
For many, this Easter will always be remembered as the anniversary of the death of their animals due to the FMD epidemic in 2001. Whether infected or not, it was a double tragedy that so many newly born lambs, calves, piglets and kids lost their lives so young and were put to death in such a cruel and obscene manner. I refer of course, not only to those that were battered or drowned to death but also those that were killed by intra-cardiac injection.
As a former veterinary nurse during the 1960's, all too frequently, I had to assist with the destruction of animals of all kinds, for many reasons and by various methods. Often the circumstances were loaded with extra emotion as the owner faced the imminent loss of a beloved pet, albeit to relieve it from further suffering due to serious accident, old age or incurable disease. On other occasions large farm animals or horses were involved and lost their lives for similar reasons.
I was fortunate, in that the vets I worked for showed an great compassion and understanding for the animals and their owners in these circumstances. Frequently a sedative was administered, prior to slaughter, in order to ensure the animals remained calm and one was always given prior to slaughter by intra-cardiac injection, if that method was necessary to achieve death.
For both large and small animals, the drug used as a sedative at that time was Largactil R and usually after a few moments the animal became unconscious and inert. Only then, was the animal shot or the drug Euthetal R administered, intra-cardiac if necessary. The circumstances in which the latter method becomes necessary, is often only in elderly animals, when the veins in the foreleg are thin, weak and tend to collapse.
Many animals are extremely stoic and seem to bear pain and discomfort with remarkable fortitude, nevertheless, due to our understanding of the nervous system, no one can deny that an injured of very sick animal, is suffering and distressed. For this reason, we have set in place laws to protect them which have been on the statutes for some years. In fact, since the Protection of Animals act 1911 (1912 Scotland), it has been an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering.
The sedative drugs have been much improved over the past forty years and those available today achieve sedation more quickly, have excellent pain-killing properties and are not expensive. Rompun . (Xylazine), can be administered in tiny doses (0.5 ml per 50 Kg body weight), and is easily given by intra-muscular injection, costing a few pence per animal, (when dealing with the weight of animals if intravenous injection is impractical.)
Domitor . (Metomidine), can also be administered in tiny doses given either sub-cutis or by the intra-muscular route, again costing a few pence per animal. In this way, unnecessary suffering can always be avoided and the amount of the drug used to finally kill the animal is reduced, giving further savings, both financial as well as in time.
I have been appalled to be told by experienced vets, that they have killed hundreds of animals during the recent outbreak of FMD, by intra-cardiac injection, without the prior use of a sedative. One even admitted to me that if he found it difficult to get the heart first time, or after a few attempts, he found that injecting into the liver (IP), did the job fine.
It has become painfully obvious that as far as many vets are concerned, their allegiance to the oath they swore on qualification, in which they promise to "above all, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the welfare of animals committed to my care means nothing.
Their regulatory body, the R.C.V.S. would also appear to hold this promise in little regard. In spite of the efforts of their then, President, Roger Eddy, to warn vets, via his open letter in the Veterinary Record, against the signing of a false certificate for the killing of healthy animals, I am not aware that the College issued any guidance, let alone ruling, as to the methods that should be employed for the welfare and humane slaughter of livestock, during last year.
My greatest concern, is that as so many vets have become what they would term as 'experienced' in administering intra-cardiac injections. Having 'practiced' the method on so many animals last year, familiarity has bred contempt and they will not care at all about any suffering they may have or will cause, as a result, even if it is only for a few minutes or even seconds. This cruel method will be their first choice in the future, whatever the circumstances.
Surely now is the time for vets, farmers and all animal owners to take careful note of the fact that all the species slaughtered last year are very sensitive to the drugs mentioned, which can not only eliminate any suffering but the use of these drugs can considerably reduce the cost of slaughter and the speed with which it is accomplished. Anyone involved in the slaughter of an animal has a both a moral and legal duty to ensure that it does not suffer and should therefore insist that the correct and most humane method is used, whatever the circumstances.
It is well known that I favour the use of vaccination as the method of control and prevention with regard to FMD, and that slaughter should be limited to only exceptional circumstances as effort to persuade the part of an epidemics control measure for this disease - a method shown to have worked in the Netherlands. In spite of the fact that I, and several others, made every Government to adopt an alternative strategy last year, they continued with their policy and no doubt indirectly contributed to the suffering caused to millions of animals by paying the slaughter teams a 'per capita' rate, leading to enormous disregard for animal welfare and we are told was a contributory factor that led to the death of a slaughter man.
We cannot turn back the clock but we can ensure a better future for the animals that can only look to us for care, protection and welfare.
For those of my readers for whom the first anniversary of the loss of their animals is such a painful memory, I can offer little comfort, other than to suggest that they always remember that for all of us, human and animal - 'To live in the hearts of those we loved is not to die'.
Jane Barribal - 2002
I respectfully suggest that reference be made to the following 'expert' opinions from those far better qualified to advise than I am.
REFERENCE -the 2000 report of the American Veterinary Medical association panel on euthanasia as published in their Journal,
JAVMA Vol 218, No.5,Mar 1,2001. P 680
"Intracardiac injection MUST only be given if the animal is heavily sedated, unconscious or anaesthetised"
The University Of Iowa Guidelines only mention IV barbiturates as acceptable for euthanasia farm animals http://www.uiowa.edu/~vpr/research/animal/euth0001.htm
University of Davis guidelines for emergency Euthanasia- there are only 3 acceptable methods -IV barbituates is one, IP is unacceptable and IC is so beyond reasonable consideration it is not mentioned.
Emergency slaughter sheep .. only mentions intravenous use.
Emergency slaughter of cattle on farm .only mentions shooting and Intravenous injection
A study on the American opossum showing that quite heavy doses of sedatives were needed to prevent the unconscious animals reacting to cardiac puncture.
Comments from the RCVS Independent Experts
When asked about IC injection in conscious animals, their replies were as follows:
Expert 1 in Vet anaesthesia
"It is NOT an appropriate technique in older animals say older than 4 weeks."
Expert 2 in Vet Anaesthesia
Accepts that there will be cruelty until people become proficient!
Accepts that even when proficient the method causes pain!
Accepts that there is pain when the needle misses the heart and even mentions 'Whimpering for 60 seconds in a dog'!
Expert 3 in Vet anaesthesia
States, If veins are easily accessible they should be used
There can never be any excuse for intra-cardiac injection in cattle of any age." He also states, Intra-cardiac route of injection is NOT an acceptable method of euthanasia in small lambs and piglets even under field conditions
Comments made by Andrew Lang, President of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
I have checked with our Veterinary Advisor, Dr. Lila Miller; our VP of
Animal Science, Dr. Stephen Zawistowski; and our Director of Public
Information on this issue.
"We agree that under these circumstances, IC injections are likely to be cruel, and that animals should not be killed in sight of others."
Note.in the 1960s and 70s UFAW (University Federation for Animal Welfare) Guidelines were taught at Veterinary College in Edinburgh.
Intra-cardiac injection was ruled as inhumane.
Ivan Walton., BVM&S
I have found NOT ONE publication that supports the use of Intra-cardiac injection in conscious animals.
1 - Intra-cardiac injection is an UNNECESSARILY PAINFUL method of Killing a
conscious animal.even when done by an expert!
2 - The Duration of the pain is NOT an issue in the legality of this method.
3 - Even an expert with this method will on occasion miss the heart,
requiring multiple injections. Other painful mishaps would be injecting the
drugs into the heart muscle rather than the Blood stream causing
extreme pain, or injecting the drug into the chest cavity causing
4 - These occurrences will be more common in the inexperienced, which is
MOST Vets qualified in the past 30 years, and when the slaughterers are
in a hurry. Paying Slaughtering teams on a per capita basis only makes
this more likely.