A cow, conscious, is hung up by one leg. She wriggles, tries to free herself. Then the cut through the throat. A last scream, then only gasping – until the animal bleeds out and dies after several minutes of agony. Sheep are not restrained or even anaesthetised either.
Just imagining these scenes is an ordeal for many. But they are real, originating in the Prott slaughter and meat centre in Selm ( North Rhine-Westphalia ), a German family business.
For four weeks, hidden cameras were in the slaughter rooms recording the plight of the cattle and sheep, which were kept under catastrophic conditions and killed in the most brutal way without anaesthesia. According to the association SOKO Animal Protection, 99 per cent of the slaughters were carried out in this way.
According to Friedrich Mülln, founder of SOKO Animal Protection, this is “the largest exposure of an illegal slaughter operation that Germany has ever seen”.
The meat from this slaughterhouse was supplied to supermarkets and butchers throughout the Ruhr area!
In addition to the slaughterhouse operator, SOKO Animal Protection also accuses the veterinary office, because no inspections by the office can be seen on the entire video footage. Mülln to the newspaper BILD: “The veterinary office was simply not there – a total failure of the state”.
And further: “It is the duty of the state to prevent such cruelty to animals. The only question that remains to me is: Is there total incompetence or bribery involved? Because I can’t really explain something like that.”
In fact, the operator was already sentenced to a fine for illegal slaughter more than 20 years ago. At the time, the veterinary office had found out about him because they noticed that the stunning bolt shot on the head was missing when they checked the animal waste.
Perfidious: The current video shows that the butcher shot the animal with a bolt after it had bled to death in order to avoid being caught again.
Volker Meier, spokesman for the responsible veterinary office in Unna, explains the lack of controls as follows: “Slaughterings have to be declared, which was not the case here. And we didn’t notice anything during the inspections.”
Mülln adds: “We know that slaughtering takes place illegally in backyards in Germany. Some religions want such meat. This family has officially advertised since 1998 that they only slaughter sheep and cattle. This indicates that they exclude pigs and are targeting a certain group,” says Mülln.
This means, for example, Muslims who eat meat only “halal” (Arabic), i.e. “pure” in the religious sense. For this, the animal must be completely bled without anaesthesia. In Germany, however, anaesthesia during slaughter is compulsory, and currently not a single slaughterhouse in North Rhine-Westphalia has an exemption permit.
Moreover, the Prott family slaughterhouse does not slaughter according to religious guidelines.
Mülln: “You see ‘halal’ everywhere, but that doesn’t automatically mean that the animals have been slaughtered. In the case of large poultry companies in Germany, for example, it means that the slaughter process is directed towards Mecca. The animals are anaesthetised in the normal way. At the beginning of the slaughter day, an Arabic saying is shouted to the heavens, and that’s it.”
BILD confronted the slaughterhouse operator Hubert Prott with the accusations. He says: “I know nothing about it. My Turkish employees start at 4 am, I only arrive at 8 am.” If he is allowed to reopen at some point, however, he does not want to hire the Turkish staff again and employ German staff.
But ignorance is no excuse. The animal rights activists also claim: The owner himself can be seen on the video footage – so he should know exactly what happened to the animals on his farm.
In the past four years alone, SOKO Animal Protection has uncovered eleven slaughterhouses in Germany that do not comply with animal law. Mülln is appalled that the veterinary office repeatedly fails to do justice to their duties: “Control cannot be SOKO Animal Protection’s job. How is this supposed to go on? Are we supposed to uncover the 100th slaughterhouse at some point and close the 80th? That is simply the task of the authorities!”
The video recordings are now with the public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund. Among other things, they are investigating violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The farm has also been closed since Friday, and the operators have been banned from working with animals for the time being.