Over the past ten years, approximately 2,000,000 animals have died a horrific death in stable fires in the Netherlands. The Dutch Party for the Animals points out the fire brigade’s conclusion: preventing stable fires is a political choice but politics keeps on postponing the implementation of measures. Toilet paper in the Netherlands is better protected against fire than chickens, cows and pigs, according to the party. The Party for the Animals wants the government to take real measures now and is pleading for a different agricultural system.
Dutch animal protectors asking for attention for the pigs that have died in one of the many stable fires
Farmed animals are not given protection against stable fires; politics, according to the Party for the Animals, is therefore partly responsible for the many dead victims. In 2017, no less than 229,000 animals died during fires. Since the start of 2018, 95,000 animals have already died in stable fires. Although slightly higher demands were set for new stables since 2013 – thanks to a motion of the Party for the Animals – it is not obligatory to install fire equipment or fire detectors. Additionally, inspections hardly ever take place and are not maintained.
Toilet paper vs animal
Stables are highly flammable. For example, the chance of a fire in a chicken stable is eight times higher than the chance of a house fire. In 2017, the Party for the Animals filed a motion for additional measures to both reduce the number of stable fires and the number of animals killed in stable fires. This motion was rejected by the liberal and Christian parties in the Dutch Lower House.
Financial interests presumably play a role in this, whereby the income and expenses are weighed against each other. In that process, an animal is only a thing of economic value, not a living creature with feelings that has the right to survive a fire. According to the Party for the Animals, a toilet role is better off than a chicken. Party for the Animals’ MP Frank Wassenberg:
“Regulations apply for flammable products such as toilet paper, but animal stables have no legal protection, such as a sprinkle installation, at all. The minute a fire starts, you know what is going to happen: all animals will die a horrific death.”
PftA’s MP Frank Wassenberg speaks in the Lower House
The Party for the Animals does not only want short-term measures to protect animals against stable fires, but it also believes that we should set up our agricultural system differently: a system without harmful, intensive livestock farming, with more focus on organic local and vegetable agriculture.
Many scientific reports of the past few years, for example those of the United Nations and of Oxford University, have advised governments to start a transition towards less animal protein and towards more vegetable protein.
Wassenberg: “Our government continues to focus on further growth of the livestock industry, against scientific advice. Eighty percent of our production animals is exported to foreign countries. The Netherlands wants to be the butcher, poulterer and milkman of Europe and to do so in the cheapest way possible. The entire system has to change. Animals are living creatures with feelings. We have to deal with them ethically. We must let animals be animals and also give them the chance to show their natural behaviour. They cannot do so in those stables where they are crammed together with tens of thousands of animals. We have to downsize our livestock, not in the interest of the animals alone but also in the interest of people and the future of our planet.