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RSPCA 'Secretly' Killed Cow at Hindu Temple

by Joanna Sugden, Times Online

Posted December 21, 2007


The cow, a 13-year-old Belgian Blue and Jersey cross, was killed by the RSPCA

A cow kept at a Hindu temple once owned by former Beatle George Harrison was secretly killed by the RSPCA today, Hindu groups have claimed.

Gauri Das, leader of the Hindu Community at Bhaktivedanta Manor temple in Hertfordshire, said that the cow was given a lethal injection this morning while worshippers were at prayer. Hindus consider cows to be sacred and killing them sacrilegious and Times Online understands that temple officials are considering legal action against the RSPCA over its actions.

The incident comes less than five months after Shambo, the 'sacred' bull suspected of having bovine tuberculosis, was put down after a failed legal battle by monks to protect his life.

Mr Das said police bundled away monks who were attending to the sick animal at the farm attached to the temple in Hertfordshire. He accused RSPCA officials of distracting the head farmer at the Hare Krishna temple while the injection was administered to Gangotri, a 13-year-old Belgian Blue-Jersey Cross. "This is shocking and duplicitous behaviour. We have been deceived by those who had given us their word," Mr Das said.

According to Mr Das, the RSPCA and police assured the farm only yesterday that because of religious sensitivities they would not intervene immediately to end the life of the sick animal that was suffering from a muscle-wasting disease.

The temple, donated in 1973 by Harrison, a Hare Krishna convert, runs The Cow Protection Project and allows cows and bulls to die naturally. The Beatle campaigned successfully to save the temple from closure in 1996.

The RSPCA confirmed that a cow at the temple had been "euthanised" to prevent further suffering. "This animal has been in constant pain and suffering for some time," the animal protection group said in a statement. "We know the cow has been suffering from painful and infected sores, her limbs had become wasted and her breathing difficult." Three separate vets had concluded that the animal should be "euthanised" immediately, the statement continued.

"We have done everything we can to take account of religious sensitivities and it is sad that we have had to take this action, but the most important thing has been to stop this poor animal from suffering. That is what the RSPCA is for, and what the public would expect us to do."

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman said: "The Animal Welfare Act makes it an offence to knowingly permit an animal to suffer unnecessarily. The Act also allows for an animal, deemed by a veterinary surgeon to be suffering unnecessarily, to be euthanised to prevent further suffering. Whilst it is important to respect religious views and seek to accommodate them within the law, it is ultimately necessary to enforce the law if no corrective action to prevent suffering is taken or is possible."

Article in Times Online