MORE than 35,000 people have signed an online petition to stop horse 'abuse' at a Laverton knackery.
The knackery was accused last month of inhumane treatment of animals. As reported by the Weekly, workers at the Leakes Road knacker's yard were secretly filmed by the Coalition for Protection of Racehorses during Melbourne Cup week.
The footage shows horses being hit on the face and one horse being shot and dragged along the ground while apparently still alive before it is shot again and has its neck slit.
Hobsons Bay councillor Luba Grigorovitch said the accusation of animal abuse would be raised at a council meeting next month.
"If the allegation is correct, the RSPCA needs to ensure appropriate action is taken.
"I personally find any form of animal cruelty abhorrent and will raise the issue with my fellow councillors."
A Facebook petition, addressed to the Department of Primary Industries, the industry authority PrimeSafe Victoria and RSPCA, calls for "immediate and definitive action" to stop practices in the footage, which appears to show:
■ One horse being struck more than 60 times on the head
■ An ex-racehorse named Nature's Child being shot in front of another horse before apparently breaking her neck falling onto a metal gate and a worker slitting her throat
■ Horses' tails being cut off while they appear to be alive
■ A sick horse being shot in front of more than 20 other horses in a paddock then being dragged about 60 metres across gravel and concrete while apparently still alive, and again being shot before its throat is cut.
The petition states: "[The horse] can be seen breathing, paddling his legs and lifting his head off the ground until he eventually takes his last breath four minutes after the first shot."
A worker at the knackery, who didn't want to be named, said he believed the footage had been doctored to make it seem like the horse was belted repeatedly. "Besides, all we were using was a poly pipe to try and get the horse to back up."
He said PrimeSafe had probed the knackery's practices since the footage was made public.
PrimeSafe chief executive Brian Casey said the investigation was conducted in December, following an official complaint by Animals Australia alleging animal cruelty and several breaches of hygiene, welfare and meat industry laws. Because the complaint involved cruelty, RSPCA launched an investigation, which is ongoing.