Pets and Their People: BARBARIC! THE DONKEYS ON A 5-DAY RIDE TO HELL..; EURO SCANDAL 3 Help Stop Cruel Treatment of Stricken Animals Transported for Slaughter in Italy

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Byline: KATY WEITZ

A DONKEY lies dead on the floor of an overcrowded animal truck, covered in its own blood and filth.

The pitiful creature was on a barbaric five-day journey to a slaughter house in Italy when it died.

For four days it lay undiscovered as the 70 other terrified animals packed into the lorry trampled it underfoot.

But even when the stricken donkeys arrived at their destination there was no respite. They were dragged from the truck by their tails and ears - before being brutally killed for their meat.

More than 23,000 donkeys and horses make harrowing journeys of up to 1,500 MILES across Eastern Europe through Slovenia to Italy EVERY week.

And their sickening plight is just another example of the animal cruelty which goes on in the heart of Europe - cruelty which we want YOU - our army of caring readers - to help stamp out.

Just last week the Sunday People told how campaigners are demanding a Europe-wide ban on testing cosmetics on animals. We also revealed how monkeys are being tortured to the edge of madness by a research lab in Holland. But even by these standards, the transportation of donkeys and horses for slaughter in Italy is particularly vile. A probe by UK charity Advocates for Animals revealed a shocking catalogue of torture and abuse. Many animals died in the cramped trucks, while others were left with terrible wounds.

The charity's Sharon Hay said last night: "This was one of the most harrowing investigations I have been involved in.

"I have seen a lot of animal abuse in my time but I believe what I witnessed in Italy was one of the worst cases of cruelty.

"I shall never forget the look of absolute despair and fear in the eyes of those animals. They were crammed in so tightly together that they were unable to move.

"And when they were eventually let out of the trucks there was only a painful death to follow.

"I just feel an emptiness and overwhelming sadness and frustration that this despicable trade in animals continues."

The charity's investigators followed a number of transportation trucks as they crossed the border from Slovenia into Italy.

Many of the animals had been travelling for five days and up to 1,500 miles from as far as Lithuania. Throughout their journeys, strict European regulations were breached.

For example, one truck meant to carry just 20 horses contained 27 stallions and two mares. Some animals received no food or water during their hellish trip and were half-dead by the time they arrived in Italy. …