Two arrests as live exports lorry stopped at Ramsgate port

Sheep The RSPCA said two sheep were put down, two died in an accident and 30 may have to be destroyed

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Two lorry drivers have been arrested in Kent after their vehicle carrying four tiers of more than 500 live sheep was declared unfit to cross the Channel.

The lorry, which was found to have faults, was stopped at the Port of Ramsgate and the animals were moved to a temporary holding pen.

Two sheep, one with a broken leg, were put down. Another 41 severely lame sheep will be shot, the RSPCA said.

Two drowned after the sheep were loaded into an area where the floor collapsed.

Six sheep fell into water and four were rescued by RSPCA officers.

'Appalling trade'

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has called for an immediate suspension of the live animal exports from Ramsgate.

He and Laura Sandys, Thanet South MP, will meet government ministers over the issue on Thursday.

Mr Grant said: "We told the port authorities right from the start that they did not have the facilities to handle live exports safely.

Sheep The sheep were unloaded into a holding pen while the hauliers looked for another vehicle

"The RSPCA has been warning that a significant welfare incident like this could lead to tragedy for the animals and now it has."

He said the charity had fought against this trade for well over 100 years.

"If meat needs to go to the continent then it should be on the hook, not on the hoof, and today cruelly illustrates that this appalling trade needs to cease immediately," he added.

Second incident

Ms Sandys said she was appalled at the "disgusting" treatment of the sheep.

She said: "This is totally unacceptable and I have taken this up with the minister and secured a meeting with him for tomorrow."

She added: "I will bring up our grave concerns about this trade in general but our great shock at this particular event.

"This is the second time a transportation from Northamptonshire has been investigated."

In a separate incident, 600 sheep were forced to spend 24 hours on a transporter after its tyre burst and the animals had to be driven back to Northampton because there were no facilities in Kent for them to be removed, fed and watered.

That incident led Thanet council to write to the Environment Secretary with calls to suspend shipments because of a lack of facilities.

Council leader Clive Hart made five requests including establishing formal resting pens as a matter of urgency, allowing RSPCA officers to inspect lorries transporting live animals, and authorising the RSPCA to check ventilation and water systems.

According to the RSPCA, Ramsgate is the only British port currently being used for shipping animals abroad for further fattening and slaughter.

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