A photo of sheep Reuters

During the recent Muslim festival of Eid al Adha, thousands of sheep were reported to be found outside the animal welfare-approved abattoirs in Oman, Kuwait, as well as the United Arab Emirates. The chief science and strategy officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or RSPCA, Bidda Jones, said in a statement, "Every year for over a decade, there has been appallingly brutal treatment of Australian animals across the Middle East during the Eid."

According to a Nine report, exporters who are found to breach Australia's live sheep export rules could be punished. This announcement was made after the CEO of one of the major exporters in Australia was called for tougher enforcement of the standards.

"The department will thoroughly investigate these breaches - no shortcuts are taken as is the case with all such allegations," said Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. However, the federal government is about to inquire whether Australian sheep, which were ready to be slaughtered, were mistreated in the Middle East.

Animals Australia, an organisation that works to protect the most vulnerable and abused animals, said it has footage that shows sheep being bundled into car boots in 40 degree Celsius heat by locals to be taken for slaughter outside of approved abattoirs.

Similar incidents were also reported by Live Exporters (the commercial transport of live farm animals across national borders), who reported that about 1,000 sheep were discovered outside of approved supply chains.

Steps like suspending the licenses of the exporters or fining them will be taken if they are found to have breached Australia's animal welfare export rules. "I don't believe that threatening to go public and start shutting somebody down is the approach because that is what we do privately," said Joyce.

The RSPCA has also demanded urgent action for exporters found to breach the rules. This will include licence suspensions as well.

Mauro Belzarini, CEO of Wellard, told the ABC: "We are just asking for meaningful consequences for offending exporters so that animals will at least be saved from the worst abuses of being exported to these countries. It costs us a lot of money, it cost us a lot of effort and man-hours, man days, etc. If nothing is done we are at a disadvantage obviously.”

Wellard is a company in Perth dedicated to the efficient, sustainable and compassionate production and export of protein throughout the world.

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