The 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic in the United Kingdom: animal welfare perspectives
S.M. Crispin, P.A. Roger, H. O’Hare & S.H. Binns
Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz., 2002, 21 (3), 877-883 pdf
"The management of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemic which occurred in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2001 resulted in widespread animal welfare problems. These problems arose firstly because of the large numbers of animals slaughtered to bring the epidemic under control, which meant that the conditions under which animals were slaughtered and the manner in which this was carried out often breached regulations concerning welfare at slaughter.
Secondly, the restrictions imposed on movements, especially animal movements, resulted in what appeared to be readily avoidable difficulties with livestock dying from, for example, food shortages and pregnant animals giving birth under unsuitable conditions.
This brief review is based on the personal experiences of the authors as well as relevant observations and reports from a variety of sources....
....The Farm Animal
Welfare Council has already produced a report on the animal
welfare issues that were a cause for concern during the 2001
FMD epidemic (13). This report recommended that detailed
strategies for killing in the field of animals of all species...
..The bureaucracy and understaffing of the State Veterinary
Service precluded clear directions and unequivocal
dissemination of information and this had deleterious effects on
animal welfare. Apart from the time taken to obtain rulings on
matters of welfare concern from the National Disease
Emergency Control Centre in London, the inflexible licensing
system exacerbated animal suffering. For example, animals
were sometimes denied the opportunity of moving from
heavily grazed pasture to a neighbouring field with fresh
pasture, despite negligible risk of disease transmission. In a
normal, non-emergency situation, these conditions would have
led to prosecution under the Protection of Animals Act of 1911
(1) or the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1968
(2). A matter of great concern is that the licensing arrangements
rarely left provision for veterinary risk assessment, especially
when so many of the decisions that should have been taken
required only a modicum of common sense and involved no
risk of disease spread...."