Death ward on farm in Bastogne : 8 abused bovines seized by UBEAW and sheltered by rescue centres Animaux en Péril and Le Rêve d’Aby.

15th December 2016

 

December 13, 2016 two veterinary inspectors of the UBEAW (The Animal Welfare Unit of Wallonia) ordered the seizure of eight bovines, cows and bull calves in a case of serious animal cruelty on a cattle farm in Bastogne (Belgium). Escorted by the police, the members of the two above-mentioned associations, drove up to the stables to load the abused animals in their cattle-trucks after which the animals were brought to the safety of their respective rescue centres.

 

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The farm premises: a total disaster

 

The tone was set as soon as we had arrived at the scene. At first we saw three carcasses laying apart from each other in the court yard. They told us that at this farm worse was to be expected.

A little further, there were three large stables where dozens of bovines were confined in the most horrifying circumstances. The stables and stalls, where the animals were kept in indescribable filth,. were in a decrepit state. In them the sanitary requirements were smashed to smithereens leaving the animals to rot standing in and sloshing through a thick layer of dirt, consisting of their own dung and urine. We have dealt with similar horrid cases before. Yet, our seasoned team members found it hard to absorb the full scale of the disaster.

Several animals were tied up and some were denied any natural light, at any time. The magnitude of the animal cruelty was shocking and there is no doubt that all animals had been structurally abused.

 

Animals malnourished and infested

 

The health condition of the animals was disastrous. They were so bony and underweight that they were only one step away of death. The veterinary report states that the animals score 1 on a scale of 1 to 5 of body health scale, which score indicates the final stage of death through starvation. Most animals’ coats were nothing but a thick layer of solidified dirt and excrements entangled in their fur. A serious parasitic infection became visible in bold patches where, in particular, mange had eaten its way into the skin even down into the epidermis.

Several calves were greatly suffering from a marked stunted growth due to nutritional deficiency. Some of the bovines were wounded.

Every inch of this pestilent housing was testimony to the miserable lives of these cows and bull calves.

 

Farmer ignored warning notice from authorities

 

The farmer has been equally insensitive to the authority as he has been to the needs of his cattle. It appeared that he had received several warnings well before the intervention took place. He didn’t follow any of the injunctions laid down by the veterinary inspectors, but instead had increased the dramatic state of his cattle by perpetuating the dangers of the sanitary health conditions in the months leading up to the seizure.

Paramount in this escalated sanitary chaos was the outbreak of a very contagious disease, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), subsequently, those that were contaminated, (could not and) cannot be sold or exported. It speaks for itself that the farmer carries full responsibility in this severe case of animal cruelty because he has neglected his duties on the cattle farm.

On top of withholding proper treatment for the IBR, the reported existence of this very contagious disease among his cattle didn’t withhold the farmer to continue inseminating his cows, through which the disease would likely have been transferred from a carrier cow to its calf. When we thought matters couldn’t get worse in this disastrous situation in many respects, they did. According to highly reliable sources, the farmer carried out illegal cesarean sections on his own cows.

 

A first seizure as a new warning

 

After the injunctions from the authorities, which the farmer chose not to obey, it had been decided by the UBEAW (The Animal Welfare Unit of Wallonia) that, as a final warning, the most fragile animals should be seized. The authority in question hopes that the farmer will renounce his erroneous ways after having been told that he will otherwise have his whole livestock confiscated.

 

Improvement very unlikely

 

We, Animaux en Péril and Le Rêve d’Aby are very grateful that the veterinary inspectors of the UBEAW have seized the most fragile bovines, and we also wish to thank the four police officers for their collaboration in assisting the seizure on the premises. But having said that, we don’t share the hope that the authority has. In fact, we fear that the situation is very worrying for the animals still left in the hands of the farmer. With the evidence stacked against him, based on what we have witnessed on the premises and what we have heard during the intervention on site, we consider it very likely that the farmer will remain uncooperative with the authorities. Everything points at a rapid and complete degradation of the situation and we put no faith in the farmer nor do we have any hope that, in spite of the warnings and the seizure, he will care for his animals. Therefore, Animaux en Péril and Rêve d’Aby insist on compulsory injunctions and a high level of vigilance and surveillance on this farm.

 

Rehabilitation at the rescue centres

 

For the teams of Animaux en Péril and Le Rêve d’Aby the work has only just started. The rescued bovines are a long and fastidious way away from being on the mend. After the first assessment by the veterinarians of the various health issues, the first action was to wash off all the filth from their coats. Next the bovines needed to be partially sheared. Then they received an anti-parasite treatment both ex- and internally. A nutrition programme was set up, which will allow the abused animals to become gradually stronger and hopefully regain their health eventually.

The cows and bull calves have to be quarantined because lab tests showed that they were all tested positive for the BoHV-1antibody and are therefore IBR-carriers. Already on the first evening of their rescue, the animals benefited from a well-deserved care and comfortable housing, which they have been deprived of up till that day. A clean and comfortable bedding, fresh water and good quality food was provided to them. However well cared for, the health condition of some animals remains very unstable. We can only hope that they will pull through.

 

Which penalties to be imposed?

 

Apart from the seizure of the cattle and the injunctions to meet cattle keeping requirements, an indictment for animal cruelty is justified.

Should the public prosecutor decide to prosecute the perpetrator, the sentence could vary from eight to six months imprisonment and a fine ranging from €100 to €100.000. Should he decide not to prosecute the farmer, but instead to hand down the case to the administrative officer of Wallonia, the sentence imprisonment cannot be imposed, but only a fine between €50 and €10.000.

If the farmer can be indicted on charges of illegal cesarean sections, the penalty could be up to three years imprisonment.

 

 

Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne
Saisie de bovins à Bastogne