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Vic abattoir abuse is 'worst' vet has seen

Wed 23 Nov 2016 by Angus Livingston (Daily Telegraph)

This article relates to the following facility: Riverside Meats Abattoir (Aussie Abattoirs)

Animals at an Echuca slaughterhouse have been tortured in shocking videos that Victoria's chief vet says are the worst he's seen in his career.

Victorian abattoir regulator PrimeSafe has demanded four staff at Riverside Meats be stood down and more than 170 hours of video is now being reviewed.

"Probably in terms of video evidence, (this is) the worst case I've seen in my career," chief vet Charles Milne said on Wednesday.

"There is no question in my mind that the level of welfare abuse that was occurring must have been known to the management.

'There are over 170 hours of evidence, of which I've only seen 15 minutes, but that to me indicates that this is a systemic problem."

No one was available to comment at Riverside Meats on Wednesday afternoon.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the "shocking and disturbing footage" was distressing to watch.

"The kind of cruelty that is evident in this video footage I think is very disturbing," Ms Pulford said.

In the video clip provided to the ABC, animals are shown being prodded with electric stunning devices on the neck, face and head, instead of on the side of the head.

Dr Milne said the videos were "extremely distressing" and people should think carefully before watching them.

Animals Australia obtained the footage anonymously several weeks ago and handed it to authorities.

Riverside Meats is being investigated over the video footage and allegations of cruelty.

"It will be our number one priority over the coming days and weeks," Dr Milne said.

Riverside Meats was sanctioned over cruelty allegations in 2013, but Dr Milne said the new claims are a step above.

"The video footage I've seen of 2013 is in a completely different league to what we've experienced this year," he said.

"You cannot abdicate the management's responsibility to safeguard the welfare of animals under their care. It's their responsibility, not the enforcer."