An Austrialian government inquiry will examine the secret industrial-scale slaughter of retired racehorses for meat after national broadcaster ABC found the practice is far more widespread than previously acknowledged. Secret footage from ABC’s undercover investigation showed workers at the slaughterhouse beating and severely abusing the horses before and during their deaths, prompting Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce an “urgent” inquiry into the treatment of retired thoroughbreds. “This was deeply disturbing, horrendous footage,” Palaszczuk told Queensland’s parliament. “I want to make sure that we leave no stone unturned and ensure we do everything possible to stamp out animal cruelty.” While the slaughter of racehorses is not illegal in Australia, it is against industry rules. The racing industry says that less than one percent of the 8,500 racehorses that are retired each year end up in a slaughterhouse, with some states requiring they be rehomed. But the ABC undercover investigation claims that approximately 300 racehorses reportedly went through the slaughterhouse in just 22 days. To prove it, the broadcaster forensically matched horses slaughtered at the Queensland facility using microchips and brandings to the industry’s official record of thoroughbreds. The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, a watchdog tasked with safeguarding the welfare of racing animals, will oversee the probe. It is expected to report its findings in early 2020.

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