I HAVE just read about a sickening trade which makes me ashamed of the human race.
It details conditions in which 87,000 horses a year are sent by road from Poland to Italy where they are slaughtered for human consumption.
Farm horses, ponies and even foals are bought in Polish markets and crowded into lorries, many of which are old and unfit even for load journeys.
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It is the start of a horrendous trip which can last five days, cover more than 2,000 kilometres and cross six countries.
During this ordeal, many of the horses have no rest, water or food and are driven directly to the slaughterhouses.
Invariably overcrowded, stressed and terrified, they frequently fall and struggle desperately to regain their feet. Once down, they can be trampled and even killed. More than 70 per cent of these journeys end in fatalities.
At staging points, fallen horses are either dragged off the trucks with chains or subjected to violent treatment to induce them to stand.
By the time they reach Hungary just halfway through their journey many are injured, dehydrated, collapsed or dead.
All of this is shown in a video, Journey to Death, made by the British animal group Viva!
How can we help?
Most Polish people love horses and do not eat horse meat. They are as outraged as I am about this abuse of animals for profit. But Poland is not a wealthy country and people do not have the resources necessary to organise opposition.
Fortunately, Viva! has opened an office in Warsaw and is co-ordinating an end to horse exports for meat.
By offering your support, I believe we can win this battle. To find out more, contact Viva! At 12 Queens Square, Brighton, BN1 3FD. The video is on their website www.viva.org.uk